In 2009 – and probably countless times since – there was a discussion around the utility of NaNoWriMo and how, in particular, it further encouraged people to write instead of reading. Nonsense, of course, that has since been thoroughly debunked, but at the time it kicked off my desire to prove that narrative – that writers don’t read – wrong.
Writers read. We probably read more than most, if anything. But at the same time, even ten years ago I heard a lot of writers lamenting their lack of time to read, the fact that they don’t read as much as they want to, or used to. We have towering TBR piles, we have books we’ve been meaning to get to for months, even years. We have outside obligations along with the pressing need to write.
So maybe we have a tendency to push off our reading time until later.
But now is that later.
December is the perfect time to celebrate reading and participate in National Novel Reading Month. For many, it’s chock full of holidays and travel, of long nights and distracting days. If you participated in National Novel Writing Month, then you’re maybe a little burnt out and really need to take a long break from writing anyway. Distance is the best editor, and what could be better than celebrating your win by letting yourself just chill and read, without that lingering, irritating guilt that you should be writing?
Yes, yes, you say, I don’t need to be convinced further. Just tell me the rules already!
Rules! We love rules. But for this challenge/event/adventure, the only rule is: prioritize reading.
What! says you. That’s not enough! I don’t know how to prioritize!
All right, then instead of rules, I’ve got some helpful guidelines, all of which you can dispense or double down on at will:
– Challenge yourself. If you usually read two books every month, aim for three in December. If you usually read one genre, pick a book from a genre you don’t typically read. Try different formats: poetry, novellas, shorts, comics (yes, comics count), audiobooks.
– Work on that TBR list. Pick the books that have been on there the absolute longest and read those. If the thought of reading them fills you with dread, strike them from your TBR completely and move on to the next ones in line. Life is too short to read books you’re not going to enjoy / get something out of.
– Make the time to read. You’re used to making the time to write, so now it’s time to prioritize reading. Download eReader apps for your phone and read while waiting in line at the post office / grocery store / gourmet popcorn stand. Instead of watching a movie with your partner or cat or resident ghost, read books together with hot cocoa and cozy blankets. Read aloud to each other. Listen to an audiobook on your way to work or while you’re doing the dishes. Go for a long walk with a narrator in your ears and a scarf around your nose. Only have time to read a few pages? Go for it! Every little bit adds up.
– Talk about what you’re reading. Talk about it with your friends, with your family, with your dog. Talk on Twitter or Instagram (use the hashtag #NaNoReadMo if you do!). Talk it out with your partner or therapist or resident ghost. Write about it on your blog or your twitter. Sharing what you’re reading is half the fun!
That’s all there is to it! And, of course, NaNoReadMo is not just for writers – anybody can participate. Even if you haven’t read a book in years, now is the time to try again.
So tell me: are you going to participate in NaNoReadMo? And if so, what are your goals?