Rediscover Reading

Do you go through reading droughts like me? Sometimes I just can’t find the motivation to read a single thing. When it’s just too tempting to watch tv or be on my phone, and reading feels like a mental strain? I only recently came out of such a rut, and I don’t want to slip out of the habit again because reading has been lifegiving to me in this past season! I’ve felt more relaxed, like I find it is easier to slow down and disconnect, and more inspired, easily finding new story ideas and an excitement to write each day.

Are you stuck in a reading drought or looking to refresh your love of reading? Here are some things that have helped me climb out of the rut and rediscover reading:

  1. The Library. Sometimes, the problem is that I don’t have any books on hand that I’m interested in reading, and I tend to have shopping anxiety so buying a book when I don’t know if I will like it or not is never easy for me. I also don’t want to waste time on a book I’m not enjoying, but I feel guilty if I don’t finish a book I spent money on. That’s why I love the library! I can check out three or four books at a time that catch my interest with no strings attached! If I don’t like a book, I don’t have to finish it; I can just return it to the library and start on the next one until something hooks me in.
  2. Book Club. Last year, my cousin and fellow author, Valerie Cotnoir, started a casual book club, which has been a big motivator for me to finish reading books. We don’t have to read the same book, but every month we gather to share about what we had finished reading and what we thought about it. It is really rewarding to be able to tell someone about a book rather than just write a review on Goodreads, and it’s also a great way to discover new books!
    • If you don’t know of any book clubs that interest you, start your own with friends you know who love reading!
  3. Readathon Day. This was my latest discover and it was a gamechanger, not only for my reading goals, but for my self-care! I dedicated two full days just to reading (although even just one day or one morning would be helpful, I think) and told my husband I was just reading for those two days. I got a book I was very excited about, cleared my schedule, gathered my favorite coffee and snacks, and snuggled down for a good read. I not only felt free to relax and just read (after all, it was in my planner), but it made me so excited to sink into the story that I’m writing.

You hear it all the time: writers are readers. And it sounds like a chore, like you have to read in order to grow in the very concrete skill of ‘good writing’. But I have found that reading grows so much more than a critical eye for good writing technique, it has grown my imagination, it has grown my ability to rest, and it has grown my love for storytelling.

My goal this year is to read 12 books – one a month, just in time for book club – and have had readathon day every 1-3 months. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.com – and you can review my books if you have read them there as well!

Creating Character Arcs

After finishing two non-fiction books on creative writing – How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and Characters and Perspectives, which I talked about in this blog post – I moved on to my next book, which I recieved for Christmas.

I was very excited to recieve not one, but three creative writing books:

  • Creative Character Arcs by K. M. Weiland
  • Beginnings, Middles, & Ends by Nancy Kress
  • Song Maps by Simon Hawkins

The first one I decided to read is the one I was most excited about: Creative Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development. I had read excellent reviews about this book, suggesting it was a #1 resource for writers, and it was filing in a gap that I really care about in my writing: character development.

Some of my favorite books are solely because of the character development, the number one being Jumperby Steven Gould. I love the way that the character grows and changes and his balance between coming of age and figuring out his super powers. The angle of anti-terrorism is so interesting, especially the way he tries to balance revenge with morals, and his relationship with the F.B.I. is so interesting. I love it, it fascinates me, and I really want to reflect genuine character development in my writing.

This book seems to be the answer, and I’m certainly adding her companion novel Structuring Your Story to my Must Read List. But, let me get to the book.Read More »