Good reading habits are meant to be prescribed for school and college goers. What do writers have to do with them?
You think so? How can reading influence your writing?
I present this quote for you:
Have you come across the term ‘career capital’? Or ‘sunk cost fallacy’? Recently I read ‘So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ by Cal Newport and ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ by Rolf Dobelli. The aforementioned terms come from these books.
Writers who are used to reading voraciously, find themselves at an advantage when it comes to justifying something through illustrations.
If you’re not already into this habit, the following are 10 good reading habits that you should try to cultivate:
Maintain A Ready-to-Read List
I maintain a list of books and subjects to read and always keep adding new names to it.
As my research, writing and blogging progresses, the priority of the subjects and the books keep changing.
I had scheduled to read a book called “Trial of Socrates” in October, 2021. However, my blog plan compelled me to bring it to the ‘immediate’ position in the list. Now I would be reading it in June. (Update – As of now, till Jan 22, I’ve not been able to start reading the book. Nonetheless, it figures in 2022 list. It happens man…😂😂)
Give ‘Reading’ A Slot in Your Daily Routine
I generally prepare next day’s timings for reading only a day earlier and break my total reading time into 2-3 small spans. Varying the slot timings everyday keeps it interesting.
No one else can fix the hours for you. It should be entirely personal.
You might think, “Who sets a time for reading?” That’s fine. But when it comes to purposeful reading, you must pre-schedule the slots.
Keep an Everyday Reading Target
How many words a day is your daily writing target? I believe a writer must maintain a daily reading target too. If you’re already into the habit of reading books, the best way is to divide your monthly target by 30 and work out your target for a single day.
For example, my target for today reads as under:
- Q4/2021 company report for the company PQRM
- Next 17 pages of the book “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolph Dobbeli
- The latest blog post on “CopyBlogger”
Keeping Notes and Indicators are Elements of Good Reading Habits
This is a great way to improve your reading habits.
While I am reading to learn, I keep a note. This note serves only to remind points to me.
If you read very deeply and understand what you read, then it’s not difficult to reproduce everything in your mind whenever you need.
However, keeping some pointers helps you to reproduce everything completely. The note I’m referring to, consists of such pointers only.
I went through an exhaustive company report about 2-3 days back. Assume, I want to retain the salient points in my mind. My notes look somewhat like this:
Rev ^^, top^, bottom^, debt^, Sh=
And from this, I can tell you this: “The revenue of the company XYZA went up in Sept.-Dec. 2021. The top line and the bottom line also improved Q-o-Q , though the debt increased. The promoters’ shareholding didn’t change.”
This is how the pointer note protects the acquired knowledge from depreciating.
Read Far and Wide
Do you read children’s storybooks? Don’t laugh it away.
Because kids’ tales give you ideas.
Do you read the composition of a cough syrup? It may give you a complex chemical’s name that your villain uses (or misuses…whatever! 😉) in your next suspense thriller.
Read novels, short stories, haikus, flash fiction, self-improvement articles …….and even the slogans of companies. All of these mirror before you, how this world is full of great writers and how much and what kind of skill you need to acquire.
Picture it in Your Mind
There is a subtle difference between how a writer reads and how a non-writer reads.
As a writer, while you read, you see the frames in your mind’s eye. You even pass judgement on them, appreciate or condemn the language and the style. Yes, it’s one of the good reading habits.
The more you develop the ability to map every word into the cinemascope of mind, the more will the writer inside you connect with the tricks of the trade.
Connect With Your Experiences on the Way
What is reading without relating it to yourself?
The reason behind this is, you can perceive the life most when you stand in the middle of an occurrence yourself.
Once you start reading things with respect to your own experiences, you begin to learn the nuances of connecting to your audience.
Illustrate to Others
Let’s assume you’re absorbed in a book over a couple of days. The book interests you but you’re somehow unable to assimilate the central concept neatly. Next, you meet a scholar friend who can match or even outdo your intellect level. What happens next?
Discussions on the subject follow. With analysis, cross questions, arguments and counter arguments, a clearer and more reasonable view of the topic emerges. You feel relaxed and satisfied.
Wonder how this falls under good reading habits? It does, my dear. When its magic unfolds, you will become a better writer.
Read What Others Have Not Read as Yet
A great quote goes like this:
I think there can be no better explanation of the fact that a writer needs to think differently. And Google being there, there is no dearth of free and uncommon books on the world wide web.
When your stats and examples come from unique places, they become highly noticeable.
Practice Long Spans of Reading
It’s my personal observation that reading for long hours at a stretch gives me a wholesome view about the writer’s intention.
Writers, in fact, try to set a mood, a tone and a style in their writing and the reader gets a bite of the writer’s philosophy while using long spans of reading.
This is one of the ways the writer in you learns the art of weaving events into a backdrop.
How to Cultivate Good Reading Habits
I read somewhere that you can rear a good habit by following it religiously for 21 days at a stretch. So, why not apply this to cultivate good reading habit?
Serve yourself more of the stuff in which you are most interested. I, for instance, increased my hunger for reading by way of reading movie magazines. Because stars’ personal lives interested me.
Here, I’m providing a list of 4 best books for those who want to start and rear good reading habits:
- Think and Grow Rich – by Napoleon Hill
- The 4-Hour Workweek : Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – by Timothy Ferriss
- Who Will Cry When You Die – by Robin Sharma
- Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Emotional Life – by Anthony Robbins
And in the end, keep growing your reading circle so you can exchange reading material at will.
All the best.