5 Simple Tips to Help You Read More – Don’t Worry, You Have Time

As I’ve written in prior posts, I’ve committed to reading 30 in 2018 I’m doing this for an entirely selfish reason, I want to become a better writer.

It won’t be easy. Finding time to read is hard, but through my life, I’ve developed a few tactics and practices that have made reading more, more accessible. I thought I would share these tips because I believe reading is essential to every single person, every career, and every industry.

Reading and Writing

The greatest book I ever read on the craft of writing (and Top 5 overall book) is Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. In the book, King discusses reading a lot. King exhorts reading as an avenue to better writing. King asserts that great writing starts with a love of reading. In other words, you need to consume great writing if you want to spit it out. And, he’s not talking about blogs, magazines, twitter, texts or bullshit that a person with a blog writes…..uh, wait a minute. Oh, sweet irony! We’re talking about books, long-form reading by crafted professionals. “On Writing” has so many great quotes advocating reading.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

“Books are uniquely portable magic.”

“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

King’s book is an unapologetic love letter to reading, which makes sense. It seems pretty apparent that if you love writing, you should enjoy reading. Reading is the consuming of writing.

I think Martin Scorsese watches movies for his enjoyment first and foremost. Larry Bird probably watched basketball on TV just for fun.  I’m assuming that Mario Batali loves to eat great food. And, I’m pretty sure Donald Glover loves friggin everything because he does everything well.

Side Note – Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen King, I can’t recommend this book more. You learn so much about his life, vices, and career. The book was written during the time that he almost died from injuries in a car accident. “On Writing” is the type of book a person can only write while faced with their mortality. It’s so honest that it can’t be called bravery, but rather atonement.

A Common Goal

As I have said, if you want to become a better writer then you should read more. But, what if you don’t want to be a writer, why should you care? In the movie Broadcast News, William Hurt tells Albert Brooks, “We are all just salesmen.”  That’s not true. I think we’re all writers. Writing is one of the oldest and most basic forms of communication. Everyone uses it. As we get older, we use it more and more. It makes sense. As a person advances in life and business, there becomes an increasing demand for that person to work less and communicate more.

Think about it; it’s a pretty classic career structure. You start working a job; you prove that you’re good at it, then you start doing it less and teach other people to do that thing. Your ability to communicate, educate and lead becomes more important than your ability to do it. Also, as we move further into the digital age, we are writing more than ever.  More emails, powerpoint documents, social media posts, text messages, whatever.

More jobs work remotely, and clients are spread all around the world. You don’t talk on the phone with clients or coworkers, you write to them. In fact,  I just spent two months on a job exclusively emailing and IM’ing with colleagues. I never spoke to them on the phone, and I’d say that I met only ten percent of them face-to-face. Talking and interacting with people is so 20th Century. It’s all about the writing baby. Can you get the people you work with and for to read your stuff?

I’m guessing you made fewer phone calls today than you did on this date ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago. Do you work in an office where everyone has headphones on and pounds away on their keyboards? As I write this, I’m sitting in a Starbucks, and everyone is writing on a laptop. Nobody is talking with each other.

Even the scary bearded man next to me has been writing the same sentence in a tattered red notebook for the past two hours. I won’t allow myself to gaze over and read that sentence. I’m pretty sure it’s the passcode to Hell.

The Big Excuse – I Don’t Have the Time