When summer peaks its head over the horizon and your beach bag comes out of storage, it’s only natural to start imagining all the literary possibilities the season holds. While lying on the beach, you can finally catch up on all the bestsellers you missed, and the beauty and life of the season will surely inspire you to finally finish writing that novel/essay/short story.
Too often, however, the summer months pass with little change to your reading and writing routines. You reach the fall with nothing new but overlapping tan lines and sand in places where sand shouldn’t be. Below you’ll find a list of ideas to help you read and write more this summer season than ever before.
I swear by audio books. They have been the number one method by which I have incorporated more reading into my life because I can listen as I complete daily tasks like commuting, exercising, or cleaning. There are various subscription-based apps and programs you can use on your phone, and many community libraries even offer downloadable audiobooks or take part in apps for “lending” digital audiobooks. Even as a very visual person, I enjoy listening to audiobooks when sitting down to read a tangible book isn’t an option.
The writer’s version of audio books! When you’re out and about and inspiration strikes, use your phone, computer, or a voice recorder to capture ideas to flesh out later. This probably isn’t ideal for writing entire stories or novels, but it’s a simple way to make sure you remember your brilliant ideas for when you do have time to expand upon them.
You may not always have a book with you, but you’ll likely have your phone. By using an app for electronic reading, you can turn all those little moments of waiting (when you normally scroll through Instagram) into reading time. If you prefer tangible books for the majority of your reading, opt for a free app and choose articles or short stories specifically for moments like these. Alternatively, get yourself a bigger bag or purse and make sure to have a book with you so that you can trade your waiting-room scrolling to reading time.
Feel free to quit books
It seems counterintuitive to quit a book when you want to read more, but hear me out. If you’re a few chapters into a book, or even halfway through, and not feeling it, drop it. Choose something else. If you enjoy what you read, the habit will practically form itself.
Set a page goal
This works for reading and writing. Aim to read 20 pages a day or to write 5. These are manageable goals that both allow you to feel accomplished each day and that add up quickly. If you find yourself in a groove after hitting your daily goal, keep going!
Make it a habit
Establish a pattern of reading and/or writing within your daily life, so that they become second nature. For example, get in the practice of writing for 30 minutes in the morning and reading each night before bed. Put a check on a calendar for each day that you do, and watch as it becomes easier and easier to sit down at the keyboard or open a new book.
Get someone to hold you accountable
My best friend and I love to take advantage of the fact that we are both writers. We call each other every week while away at school to ask about writing progress and to share our work. Find a writing or reading buddy and check in with each other regularly to make sure you’re both sticking to your goals. Similarly, being part of a book club, whether it’s an online or in-person organization, can also hold you accountable in your reading. The group discussions that come with such a group can also push you to think more deeply about a book’s content or message and broaden your experience of that work.
Set up a nice writing/reading space
Writers: It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, it may be better if it isn’t. Just make it clean and appealing to you. If you like to type, have your computer charged or plugged in and ready. If you write by hand, get some nice notebooks and pens that you enjoy using.
Readers: You can do the same with your reading space. Make sure you have ample light, a comfy seat, and that your book is there when you’re ready to read.
Regularly writing out your thoughts, even if they have nothing to do with your preferred form or content of writing, is a great way to sort them out and clear your head. You never know when you might find a great idea lodged in there.
Make a writing list and/or reading list
Fill them with books you can’t wait to read and ideas you’re excited to explore in your writing. That way you always have a next thing to go to. When you finish one book or piece of writing, you can move on to something new and exciting without losing momentum.
When it comes to doing more or less of anything, the key is to make it as simple and appealing to yourself as possible. Try implementing just a few of these tips into your reading and writing, and you’re sure to notice things moving in the right direction.
Now break out that beach bag, fill it with books/notebooks, and get going!