While some writers have been writing stories since they could hold a pencil, that wasn’t my experience. I was a reader first. For thirty-five years I fell into books, crawled into stories, and lived there as often as possible.
Then one day the stories in my head tumbled onto a page. I started writing, and for a while the writing seriously messed up my reading life. Perhaps you can relate?
I found myself analyzing everything I read. It was almost impossible to lose myself in a story the way I used to. I wondered if the author was a plotter or a pantser, how they did their research, or why they went in a certain direction with a story. I couldn’t stop myself from studying the story to see where the plot points were and how the elements of the story matched the expectations set forth for that particular genre.
It was exhausting.
Reading had been my escape, books my best friends. But now they felt like work. The magic of them had faded because I had peeked behind the curtain. I knew how much effort went into each page and because I knew so much more about what good writing sounded like, I now found myself editing the words, rewriting sentences in my mind as I read.
As much I loved writing my own stories, I wondered if I would ever love reading again the way I used to.
If you’ve experienced something similar, let me give you some hope.
Over the last few years, I’ve rediscovered my love of reading. I still don’t have as much time to read as I would like but I’ve found a few tricks that helped me dive back into the stories that feed my imagination and my soul. Here are my seven tips for rediscovering your love of reading:
1. Choose wisely. If you’re struggling to enjoy your reading, choose a book in a genre you know and love, by an author you know and love. And don’t be afraid to reread a favorite. This is not the time to choose a 700-page doorstopper. Go for something short and something fun. You can tackle the epics and classics after you’ve reestablished your reading mojo.
2. Give each book a chance, and don’t be surprised if it takes a little longer for a story to suck you in than it used to. Before I started writing, it wasn’t unusual for a book to capture my imagination within the first couple of paragraphs. That’s rare these days. Sadly, it still takes me a while to get my internal editor to shut up, but I’ve found that if I’m willing to stick with a book, that pesky editor usually slinks off and allows me to enjoy the story in peace.
3. Just because you start a book, doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Life’s too short to read crummy books. If my internal editor won’t give up after a few chapters, I’m likely to set that book to the side. There are tons of well-written and binge-worthy books waiting for you to enjoy. Read them.
4. Read widely. Read what you write, but don’t neglect other options. Read poetry, romance, thrillers, sci-fi, historical. Choose fiction and nonfiction. Be intentional about reading books by people who are not like you. Seek out stories written by people of all ethnicities and nations, by men and women, young and old alike. And don’t forget about children’s, middle grade, and YA.
5. Read a different way. Try an audio book (yes, that IS reading) or choose a short story or novella collection. If you’re a fan of paper (and believe me, I understand), try digital. If you usually go digital, grab a hardcover.
6. Be amazed and appreciative. Before I started writing, if I found a book that glued me to my chair and kept me turning pages long after bedtime, I usually thought, “Wow, that story was fabulous.” These days? I’m more like to say something like, “That author is amazing.” And then, I try to share the love. I may post it on social media, tell my friends, or encourage others to read the story.
7. Don’t quit. Reading matters, especially for writers. I think Stephen King explained it best when he said, “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.” So, keep trying until you find a book that reminds you why books are so awesome. And then find another. You’ll be so glad you did and ultimately your writing will be better for it.
About the Author: Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she’s a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she’s sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas!
Lynn’s titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Her newest series kicks off in March 2021 with Unknown Threat, Book 1 in the Defend and Protect series.
She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught Scrivener to writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at LynnHBlackburn.com and @LynnHBlackburn on Bookbub, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
About the Book: US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell knows it’s not a coincidence when three friends and fellow agents die in unusual circumstances within weeks of each other. As more agents are targeted, the stakes become higher than ever. FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is placed in charge of the investigation and must work with Luke to bring the killer to justice before any more names are added to the Secret Service Wall of Honor. Lynn H. Blackburn pulls out all the stops in this exciting launch that will have readers holding their breath one minute and swooning the next.