How to Build a Reading Habit

by Guest Writer Meghan Calhoun

So You Want to Be a Reader?

Lots of folks out there want to read more books. Lots of writers have been taught that old maxim, “writers read.” There’s a lot of truth to that too. An excellent way to work on your own craft is to study-read the work of others.

But how do we make a reading habit?

But I Don’t Have Time…

This modern life pulls us in so many directions, there’s so much vying for our attention, whether we get sucked into the social media scroll or we’re tending to the needs of a family or we’re going to school and work and it just leaves little time for other pursuits.

I’ve had many people tell me that they simply don’t have time to read.

Building a Habit

This is where the word habit comes into play. We build a habit, and it carves out the time we need.

So how do you do it?

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I read as much as I can, but I know people who read a lot more than I do; I have built a habit of reading that is sustainable for my lifestyle.

Remember, it’s not a competition.

Set a Goal

For me, building a habit of reading starts with having a goal.

My favorite way to do this is on Goodreads. There you can build a profile, set a reading goal for the year, and then work towards that goal.

You can scan your books into the app with your phone camera and record what page you’re on every time you read.

The app tells you what percentage of the book you’ve completed, making it easy to see progress.

The dopamine hit I get from seeing that percentage bar go up encourages me to keep going.

Be Realistic

Set your goal realistically, but challenge yourself if you want to.  You can always go back and change your goal if you need to make adjustments.

I’m a wife, a mother of three young kids, and a writer so my usual goal is 12 books a year. It’s been easily attainable for the last three years, so this year I bumped it up to 24 books.

I don’t know if I’ll meet it yet or not, but it’s a number that I’m working toward.

It doesn’t matter the number of books you land on, every page you read helps you build the habit of reading!

Make a Plan

Once my goal is set, I’ve got to make sure I’m carving out the time to read.

Set aside a time every day, or even every week, to read. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time! Any little amount of time you have is enough.

If you still think you’re too busy, another thing you may want to consider is the amount of time you spend doom scrolling on your phone.

I know, it’s a touchy subject.

But if you took a book with you on your lunch break or when you sit in line at the pharmacy or when you’re in the carpool line, that’s valuable reading time!

Every minute of reading counts!

Make Adjustments

Let’s bring it all together.

Read daily, read weekly, read monthly, but read with consistency. Set aside time on certain days to chip away pages towards your reading goal!

But remember that life happens.

You get sick and need to go to bed early instead of reading. You have a busy week and just keep forgetting to bring your book with you. Your friends ask you to hang out or your kiddo has a baseball tournament.

Adjust your goals to fit your real life—don’t make yourself miserable!

Give yourself the grace to remember that reading is supposed to be fun! Pick books in genres and on subjects that you think you’ll love. (I like to have a fiction and a nonfiction book going at the same time.)

And if you get a third into a book and you hate it, put it down and pick up something else. Life’s too short to read books you don’t love!

Meghan Calhoun writes fantasy and lives in Alabama with her husband and three kiddos. Check out her blog and insta.

Did you enjoy this post? Check out my post “How to Become a Reader.”

What reading tips have worked for you? Comment below!

Photo Credit: Photo by Aline Viana Prado

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