I had a fantastic holiday. A proper one. Not the periods of time when I’m away from base and work at half speed – those are more like “breaks from normal life”: life continues away from base and it’s affected by the new surroundings. But they’re not holidays.
A holiday, like the one I had, is a time when I don’t have to do anything.
When spontaneity reigns.
Where I follow “I want to” or “I’d like to” rather than “I need to” or “I should”.
I looked back at that particular holiday. I hadn’t done much. I ate well (not too much), took long walks along the beach, and I read a lot.
I read fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir… And I enjoyed it so much. Some people would ask “What did you learn?”. The honest answer: “Not sure, probably not much.”
Subconsciously, I’m sure I learned about structure, language, and what makes for a good read, but I rarely read to learn. I read for enjoyment. And comfort. I find great comfort in reading.
“So,” I said to myself, “If you read so much, and it made for such a good time: what are you going to do about it?”
The obvious answer: make sure you find the time to read every day, back in “normal life”.
Now that I travel less in the tube, and I rarely need to get a train, and that I often catch the plane with my husband instead of on my own, I read less than I used to.
I always read a novel in bed, before going to sleep, but that’s the problem. Reading seems to be a trigger for sleeping. So if I sit down in the evening on the sofa, and start to read… Yes, that’s what happens.
But I was determined to read more, it seemed to turn up the daily-life enjoyment.
So I found the time to 1) read and 2) write. For me, they go hand-in-hand one follows the other. So here’s what I do now:
I get up and have breakfast with my husband. We watch a sitcom – a great way to start the day, laughing together. Then I sit on the sofa for about 15 minutes and read fiction. Once I get to a point where I can step away from the book, I read about writing for around 15 minutes. Finally, I open an old laptop which has Scrivener installed and I write for half an hour. Some days I write 200 words, sometimes a bit more, but rarely more than 700 words.
I heard about the 200 words challenge a day from The Bestselling Experiment podcast, where they encourage writers to write 200 words of their book a day. The truth is, if you have the discipline to sit at your laptop every day to write 200 words, you’ll probably write more. It’s true, I always find 5 extra minutes to go beyond 200 words.
It’s a great way to trick you into writing every day.
I follow this read-read- write routine from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays, I go to an exercise class that starts at 8:30, so I can’t slot the writing in comfortably. And I refuse to obsess about having to write every day, it’s not my profession. And it’s not an obsession.
It’s so much fun at the moment, and I want to keep it that way.
So in a nutshell, that’s how I went from “reading makes me happy, I want to read more”, to reading more.
And I also write more, which is so much fun. Writing should be fun.