Ten Tips to Get Your Reading Mojo Back

The world seems to be made of two types of people: readers and non-readers. Most of you visiting this blog are readers. But even avid readers who have towering stacks of TBR books (or long lists on e-readers), even you can hit a low spot where reading seems like a chore. If you’re there, use these ten tips to get your reading mojo back.

photograph of a young black man reading in a park smiling because he got his reading mojo back

1. Make it a Habit

To make it a habit, schedule a time for reading. Schedule thirty minutes every day. Too busy? Read twice a week. Or take your book (physical or electronic) with you. Use the pockets of waiting time in your day. Read for ten minutes while waiting for an appointment or transportation or your morning latte.

2. Make it Pleasurable

Remember, you’re not doing this for a grade or work. Choose a location that is comfortable, has few distractions, and is suitable for reading. Do you like low classical or jazz music playing? Find a reading area or room that allows you to escape into the book you are reading.

3. Decide Why You’re Reading.

Because the book club is reading it.

If you’re reading only because the book club is reading it, does the pleasure of the book club interaction counter act the discomfort of reading the book? If yes-great! Keep reading. If not, don’t read the book. A book club isn’t a good fit for some people. If you are one of those people—no worries. Do a little self check. What would you like to read? Why do you read that type of book?

Are you reading to check reality?

What do I mean “to check reality?” The books that check reality are nonfiction or fiction, but the story or subject reveals uncomfortable truths about the world and our place in the world. Books like Night by Elie Wiesel, the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Flowers of Hiroshima by Edith Morris, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What books have you read that check your reality?

Reading to escape reality?

No judgment here. We all need to escape once in a while.

What kind of escape do you want? Some will want something that makes them laugh. Others want a warm and fuzzy feeling from their reads? Romantic? Thrilling? Scary? Sometimes you might need light and romantic and other times you might need dark, gritty, and thrilling. No matter what you prefer, there is a book out there that will take you on the journey of your choice.

To learn a specific skill or specific information?

For pleasure?” you ask. Sure. Learning doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Maybe you want to learn a new language. Do you want to learn to cook an exotic dish? Maybe you want to learn to build a robot. It’s okay. Reading to learn can be pleasurable. Enjoy.

Reading to expand your mind or worldview.

Reading to expand your mind or worldview differs from a reality check, though they can go hand in hand. These are the books you read about different cultures or religions. It can also be books that make you see your own life from a different perspective.

4. Choose the book

If you read or write in your day job, it may be difficult to read for pleasure. Try reading outside your professional sphere. If you write science fiction, read contemporary romance or poetry. If you proofread science journals in your day job, try reading graphic novels or historical fiction. You get the idea.

If you feel you’ve read all the books in your preferred genre, try a different genre. It may surprise you which ones you enjoy.

If you can’t read because of stress (pandemic, anyone?), reread an old favorite or look through a coffee-table book during your reading time.

If you have a stubborn streak, choose to read banned books. (Don’t forget to tell friends or on social media.) To paraphrase Stephen King, the reason someone banned the book is the reason you need to read it. How will you know your own beliefs and ideas about it if you don’t?

5. Get the book

Your public library is your best and cheapest (free!) source. If they don’t have the book you are looking for, most likely you can ask and they will find and borrow a copy for you to borrow. (Remember to return or renew those books on time so you don’t have to pay late fines.) Of course there are subscription reading services, if you can afford them. Why do I recommend those two avenues? Because the authors get paid by the library or the subscription service.

6. Prepare to Read

Photograph of a tropical beach with a beach cabin in the background and a woman in a plastic chair, reading with her feet in the surf--woah she got her reading mojo back

Prepare yourself and your reading area before you sit down to read. Reduce or remove distractions. Go to the bathroom. Get a favorite drink and a snack.

Clear the cat, or dog, off your reading chair. Position your reading light. Want scented candles? Jazz playing in the background?Bare feet in the ocean? Prepare everything you need so that once you begin to read, you don’t have to stop.

7 Open the book.

If you’re still having trouble reading for pleasure, tell yourself you only have to read ten pages or for thirty minutes. Then do it. If you are enjoying the book, keep reading.

8. What if you decide you don’t like the book?

Most of the time, you don’t have to read a book you don’t like. Consider a couple of things. Sometimes books are slow to get started. Sometimes you’re distracted and need to try again. You can choose to give it 20-50 pages. If it’s not your cuppa after that, put it down. Pick up the next book.

Sometimes books are hard to read because of the topic or the author’s native language or cultural differences. That might be a book to read to the end to gain information that will expand your sphere of understanding and empathy.

9. Finish the book.

Celebrate and—(you know what’s coming, don’t you?) write a review of the book. If you borrowed it from the library, you can review it on a reader’s site like Goodreads or Bookbub.

10. Pick up the next book.

You have the next two or three books waiting in your reading spot, don’t you?

Bonus Tip: 

No one cares how many or what books you’ve read. Not really. You may enjoy making a list of what you’ve read. 

If you’re a member of Goodreads or Bookbub, you may say that those sites keep your list. Yes, they do. But what if they decide to do something else or remove the site from the web? There goes your list.

Keep a journal of the title and authors of books you’ve read. Include a word or two that tells you what it was about. Consider creating a rating system for yourself. Review your list every year. Perhaps you’ll reread a book or two and document how your rating of it changes.

Double Bonus Tip:

What if you can’t focus on reading? Give yourself a break. Choose to take a month or two off. At the end of that time, give yourself an opportunity to read something for thirty minutes. If it was pleasurable, there you go.

If it still isn’t a pleasurable experience, consider what’s making it less pleasurable. Too much stress in your life? Do what you can to reduce the stress. Not enough time? See number one.

Have your eyes checked. Maybe your prescription has changed. 

Maybe you need a new chair. *smile*

Fully dressed woman lying on her back on top of her unmade bed, reading a book with her feet in the air--she's got her reading mojo back

Get Your Reading Mojo Back

Even lifelong readers can get burnt out on reading and need a break. That’s okay. But if that break becomes a habit, these top ten tips to get your reading mojo back will help you re-enter the thousands of lives and thousands of worlds you can experience through books. 

Motivation for Being A Creative

The journey of being a creative can be like a smooth road. You glide from point A to point B. Most often; it is a bumpy, curvy road with fantastic ideas and poor execution or a mediocre idea and stunning execution. Self-doubt can cause breakdowns (to continue the metaphor). If you choose to be a full-time creative, you need ways to manage the ups and downs, curves, and occasional breakdowns. The best way to do this is to know your what, who, how and why of creativity. Your answers will help motivate and inspire you. Here are some quotes to help you get started or clarify your answers.

Photograph of a needle with multiple, different colored, embroidery threads through the needle demonstrating that Being Creative can be hard.

What is Creativity?

Creativity is more than a definition found in a dictionary.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.”

George Bernard Shaw

Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Edward de Bono

It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.”

Eric Jerome Dickey

When Can You Be Creative?

Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” Bruce Garrabrandt

Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it who makes a difference.”

Nolan Bushnell 

Who Are Creatives?

photograph of an asian woman wearing glasses lines of computer programming language are on a screen in front of her and reflected in  her glasses. Make room to understand programmers are being a creative too.

There’s room for everybody on the planet to be creative and conscious if you are your own person. If you’re trying to be like somebody else, then there isn’t.

Tori Amos

The artist is not a special kind of person; rather each person is a special kind of artist.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

The creative adult is the child who survived.

Ursula Leguin

How to be Creative

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

Rumi

Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

Tina Turner

Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”

David Lynch

Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.”

Mary Shelley

Everything you can imagine is real.”

Pablo Picasso

Why Be Creative?

For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.”

Amor Towles

Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living.”

Madeleine L’Engle

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

Kurt Vonnegut
Photograph of a man's hands as he hammers red-hot steel into a blade-he is being a creative, too

Your What, Who, How, and Why Be Creative

Longtime readers of this blog know that helping people find the courage to express their creative side is a passion of mine. For more encouragement read how your creativity doesn’t have to be perfect.

Whether you’ve assessed your what, who, how and why be creative or not, I hope one or two of these quotes gave you creativity a boost today.

What motivates or inspires you on your creative journey?

Crazy Fun Reading Goals for 2022

Yes, being stuck in a pandemic for two years sucks. During the pandemic and other personal life stressful events, my reading has ground to a halt. Reading goals? Seriously, I’d like to get through one book in less than six months. Some of you may have read more (a lot more) than usual. Some of you may be like me. Stuck. So I hoped that culling some of the crazy fun reading goals across the Net would lift me (us) out of the swamp of no reading.

Photograph of a girl outside holding a book as if to read but a blindfold covers her eyes. She may need some crazy fun reading goals

Read Only Prize-Winning Fiction

How many major literary awards are there? Let’s see. There’s the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, the John Newberry Medal, the Edgar Awards, the Nebula Award… and I’ve barely touched the list of major awards.

While I’m certain every prize-winning book is worthy of its prize, I’m not certain they would all help us regain our pleasure in reading. Some (many?) might help us sleep better, so there’s that.

Read the Dictionary

Photograph of a young girl lying on a sofa, reading the dictionary. Would this be a crazy fun reading goal for you?

I know there are people who say they have read the dictionary cover-to-cover. How do you think they did it? Did they read it straight through A to Z or did they read a page a day or read an entry or two a day?

Do you think you could read the dictionary in a year’s time?

Read in a Different Location Every Day

If you have enough money and leisure time, this could be fun for city dwellers. If you’re a rural dweller, I suppose you might need a picnic basket and blanket and perhaps alternate methods of transportation. But it’s doable. 

You can also take this one up a notch. Make the challenge to read in a different city every day. For some, that would be a drive down the coast or certain highways. For others, it might involve a lot of travel. Are you up for it?

Read Every L. Ron Hubbard book

Mr. Hubbard holds the Guinness World record of most published works. He has a whopping 1,084 published works.

Apologies to any Hubbard fans out there, but even on my best reading day I haven’t been able to get through a single one of his books.

Read a Book From Every Country

Photograph of a woman in a hijab and a man in a cap and middle-eastern style clothes, reading with three girls in hijab in a desert setting.

This would be fun and enlightening, I think. I wonder how many countries’ books are in the average metropolitan library? There are tiny countries from which it might be difficult to buy any books. There are other countries that may not have the translation you need. Not to mention that shipping and other charges might get expensive.

But it would be fun to try, wouldn’t it?

Read Every Book on Your TBR List

I don’t know about you, but this would be a LOT of books for me. One day I will do this. Really. How about you?

Read 5 Books from Each Major Genre

To simply figure out what the major genres are will take some time. A quick Google search came up with different sites claiming there are from five to eighteen different major genres.

This might not be so crazy. Even if we decide that there are 18 different genres, that would only be ninety books for the year. Though some genres may be harder to get through than others. 

Read a Page a Day

This isn’t a goal for someone who wants to read a lot during the year. But it might be a goal for someone who’s having a hard time getting through any books. It might be a fantastic challenge for someone who reads fast. Reading a page a day may give you a better appreciation of the story.

Crazy Fun Reading Goals

Photograph of a young boy holding an open book on his lap, his head thrown back and mouth open  in a big laugh. He's got a crazy fun reading goal

Reading goals are great. For some of us, during this pandemic, reading goals are undoable. I hope that this post has helped readers struck down by pandemic, or other, reading inhibitions. It has inspired me to re-read an old favorite at a minimum of a page-a-day. Perhaps that will re-energize my reading habits. If you need inspiration for what to read next, check out my First Line Friday posts.

Do you have reading goals? Do you reach them?

What is the craziest or the most fun reading goal you’ve ever had?

Image Credits

2021 Year-End Progress Report

Typically, my year-end progress report would have come last week, but I was still rebuilding my website. (If you haven’t seen it, take a look.) I had intentions for 2021. Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen. But in reviewing the year, I’m heartbroken at what 2021 took from me and grateful for the good things 2021 brought.

Intentions

Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.

Making

 My intentions were that If I Should Die would have been celebrating its first publication date birthday. February changed everything.

During the following 90 days, I did whatever I felt like doing. If I didn’t feel like doing anything, I didn’t. At the beginning of May, I returned to my writing desk. My focus wasn’t back to normal. But I plugged away at the keyboard.

Mid-May I woke with my second bout of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. The first episode had been ten years earlier. I had forgotten it was possible that it would recur, so it took a few days before I figured out why I was so dizzy I didn’t dare move. That kept me from the keyboard until I figured out I could dictate to the computer without looking at it.

It took 90 days of therapy to get to where I could drive the car again. It took longer to get to where dizziness didn’t interfere with what I was doing.

In September I could finally endure longer days at the computer. I completed the first revision of If I Should Die the Saturday before Thanksgiving and sent it out to my beta readers.

I posted 75% of the posts I’d intended.

One of the wonderful surprises 2021 sprung on me was an invitation to take part in the Writers In the Storm blog. (I accepted, of course.)

Managing

Ongoing computer issues got worse, or maybe less tolerable, over the first half of the year. I tried several fixes and finally resorted to making a backup of everything, then wiping the computer’s memory and reloading everything. That seems to have worked brilliantly.

Redesigning my website became a necessity when the makers of my previous theme dropped it from being a supported theme. It took a little longer to get it functional with the new theme and there are things I want to fix or add in the future, but I am happy so far. Take a look. 

Sadly, I only read five books in 2021. The focus and connection and joy had disappeared.

In happier news, I won a partial scholarship to the 20Books Vegas Conference in November. It took some scrambling to afford to go, but it worked out. I connected online with the kind and supportive J Lynn Hicks, author of YA dystopian novels, and we agreed to be roommates.

Before I went to the conference, I decided to focus on learning more about marketing there. Even if I attended them back-to-back, there were more panels about marketing than I could attend. I reveal a little of what I learned at the conference below.

Marketing

With everything else going on, I had little motivation or energy for creating new ads. I focused instead on the ads I had. I studied them one-by-one, removed keywords that weren’t working. It didn’t take long for me to see better results from the ads. Sales trickled in.

Thanks to COVID, there was only one in-person book sale I could have attended. But I did not take part in the book sale day at 20Books Vegas. 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my sales increased over two hundred percent from the previous year.

Home

I am deeply grateful for dear friends who have reached out in very supportive ways this entire year. You know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Life after a spouse’s death is full of decisions and changes. Don’t worry, I’m not making big changes like selling the house or anything. Instead, I’m deciding what possessions that were my husbands do I keep, sell, or donate. I don’t need to bore you with the all the details. But there are a couple I will share.

I’ve decided to make my work environment healthier and more efficient. Yes, as if I don’t have enough other things to do. My office is a spare bedroom. It is a disorganized mess. This project will take months to complete. My newsletter readers, Burrows Bookwyrms, will get to see some of what the process looks like.

Like many middle-class couples, we had my car and his car (an eight passenger van really). After my husband became wheelchair bound, I bought a wheelchair van. Selling his old van would have distressed him. So, we had three vehicles. Before COVID, I used my car for quick errands. After COVID, I think I used the wheelchair van twice. So in September and October, I sold the old his and her vehicles and traded in the wheelchair van for a new car. 

Events

Of course, the biggest event for 2021 was my husband’s death.

Plumbing issues, washer and dryer issues, reseeding the lawn, and the gas company’s decision to dig up my new grass to replace the gas meter filled much of my summer. 

My trip to Las Vegas for the 20Books Vegas conference was my first trip anywhere in way too many years. There were uncomfortable moments during which I’d retreat to my room, but there were also many amazing moments of learning and connection.

Plans don’t always proceed the way we had intended. So it was with my trip to Memphis to meet my brother and his family. They had a last-minute event arise and could not meet me. They had paid for the VRBO house, so I packed up my dogs and went, anyway. The ten-hour drive there and back weren’t terribly relaxing, but the days I spent in Memphis were wonderfully restful.

What I Learned

The top ten most popular posts on my blog during 2021 are:

My 2021 focus word was productivity. Yeah. Didn’t happen.

Turns out I had two focus words. One was learning. I learned far too much about writing and publishing to share here. I’ll limit myself to share only a few nuggets.

Did you know? Vertigo can stubborn and not respond to therapy. Also, it can be caused by shifting crystals in both ears, but the therapist can only treat one ear at a time. That’s one of the things I learned last year.

Give Yourself Permission Not to Do It All. 

Marie Forleo

Permission was my second focus word. I learned I cannot do it all, especially while grieving, but even when all things are good. Most importantly, I learned to give myself permission to focus on my health and happiness. It’s not that I didn’t care about myself before. I did many things to care for myself through the years. But as the months marched onward, I thought I didn’t have time. Many times I didn’t. But that changed. Going to Vegas, listening to all the authors and presenters, finally made me understand I needed to give myself permission to do that.

I didn’t need permission to do what I loved. I still loved writing. It was a place of refuge, a place recharging, a place where the me I like flourished. I will never need permission to write. But focusing on myself, allowing myself to push past previous self-imposed limits—both personally and professionally—that was where I didn’t even see that I had set firm limits. Giving myself permission to go to a writer’s conference was the first step to identifying those subconscious limits I’d set. Attending the conference made me understand I need to give myself permission. Permission granted. Within reason. *smile* 

Going Forward

I’m focusing on growth this year. Read my statement of what that means.

I will finish this second revision by the end of January and submit If I Should Die to my editor. After polishing the words, and proofreading, I will publish it this spring. I’ll have a date soon. 

I will outline the third book in the Fellowship Dystopia series and begin drafting the rest of Miranda’s story.

Giving myself permission to focus on my business and myself is liberating. And I think it’s a lesson all of us need to remember. We can get so very obsessed with what’s going on, so busy taking care of details, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Especially when we’re in the second year of world-wide crisis (COVID, fires, earthquakes, severe weather events, etc.) I hope that this posts helps you to give yourself permission to let go of some of your stress in the coming year. Give yourself permission to feel joy or peace for however long you can. Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself and others. Feel the freedom and peace granting that kind of permission gives.

Did you enjoy this year-end progress report?

Is giving yourself permission an issue in your life?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Wishes in the Season of Love, Kindness, and Wisdom

December is coming to a close. Many of you have celebrated holidays or will celebrate holidays over the next nine days. In this season of love, kindness, and wisdom, there are wishes exchanged. No matter which holiday you celebrate, my wish for you is that you find love, kindness, and wisdom here and where ever you are.


Photo is of a guinea  pig with Christmas packages and a Christmas tree in the background a season of love, kindness, and wisdom

Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.

Pindar

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.

Dale Evans

Photograph of Pine trees in snow

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”

John Boswell

Kindness is like snow. It beautifies everything it covers.”

Kahlil Gibran

I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.”

Fred Rogers

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Photograph of sliced roast beef, a vegetable medley, mashed potatoes,, and fresh bread-a Christmas feast

Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.”

William Shakespeare

The success of a holiday depends on what you find for yourself on the spot, not what you bring with you.”

Ellis Peters

If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.

Bob Hope

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Mother Theresa

A Little Kindness

This time of year can be joyful, but for some the joy is diminished or even snuffed out. And in this second year of the pandemic, the stress and difficulties of those in our community is great. Take a few moments to volunteer or to donate to the cause of your choice.

If you don’t have a philanthropic choice, consider giving to MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. Their mission is to improve the lives of those impacted by sexual abuse and assault and to prevent sexual violence in our community. They do great things in the Kansas City area. If you’d prefer to give to a national organization, I’d like to suggest RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. If you would like to know more go to either website or my post.

Even if you can’t give either money or cash, you can let others know about the necessary and difficult work these organizations do.

Thank you for caring.

Please Note

This site will go dark for the next six days. I am determined that things will go well, and this site will re-open with a new look.

A Seasonal Wish

Many thanks to all who have stuck with me this year. I appreciate your support more than I can say.

I hope this season of holidays has given you, or will give you, a little love, a little kindness, and a little wisdom and plenty of blessings to count.

What are your favorite seasonal words of love, kindness, or wisdom? Please share.