Today’s episode may seem off topic- what does reading have to do with creativity? I promise I’ll explain how they are interwoven for me…BUT also, you can substitute reading with other creative tasks you’ve been trying to get into your busy day. Think sketching, journaling, exploring your faith, writing your book, learning a new skill…being a continual learner and filling yourself with inspiration are both huge parts of the creative process, but I know as a mom and business owner (and podcaster and all those things) that finding the time isn’t as easy as we’d like.
Let me back up and explain my reading goals to you here. As a life-long lover of learning (aka a big old NERD), I spent years hooked on business books and self-improvement books. I would read them before bed, listen to them on audible while I went for runs or while I worked on design projects…basically any time I had blank space, I was filling it with business growing information. At the time, this seemed practical and efficient. The problem was, it was also burning me out. My design and branding work started to feel stiff. I was uninspired. I wanted to grow my business but the creative work that I needed to do to support it was stalling out.
So I walked away from the biz books. And even the self-improvement books. AND the business podcasts. Just temporarily. And I picked up a novel to read just for fun. Then I switched my Audible selections to another novel I’d been meaning to get to. And suddenly, my design ideas started coming back. As I read more and listened to more, I could feel myself getting inspired again. I could feel my point of view as a maker and artist getting stronger. I was doing better, more efficient work, without the self-improvement books. I realized that creative reading WAS a big important piece to my creative process. And that I needed to do more.
SO…In 2018 one of my big goals is to read more fiction. Specifically 2 books a month. (If you’re a voracious reader, this may seem minuscule, but previously my fiction reading was about 4-5 books a year, so I’m making strides here.) And as I’ve been posting on social media about what I’ve been reading, I get lots of messages and comments from people mentioning that they’d like to read more but don’t have the time, or asking how I find the time. So here are my best tips for sneaking more reading (or drawing, or learning, or whatever) into your day:
- Switch up the format– To me there’s nothing quite like the feeling of holding a book in my hands. BUT by being willing to add in audio formats, I can get more reading into my day at times when I normally wouldn’t be able to. I mentioned already that I love Audible. This doesn’t replace my physical reading, but allows me to be doing two books at once, usually. I listen while driving, cooking (I cook and bake a LOT), sometimes while exercising, definitely on walks.
- Replacing my phone habit– this was HUGELY EFFECTIVE one and was surprisingly easy to do once I started. Every time I would normally reach for my phone for mindless scrolling, I grab my book instead. This was WAY more often than I’d like to admit. The most common times this occurred for me were while I was waiting for software to do its thing- I’m looking at you Adobe programs– opening or uploading big files is a great time to sneak a page or two in – while eating meals on my own, or waiting for kids at various activities
- Always have my book – this goes with #2, but I always have a book with me. Always. In a purse, a laptop bag, a diaper bag. You never know when a spare moment will come to grab it and move forward with a story. (this goes with you with your sketchbook, or whatever tools you need for your creative endeavor, friend! One of my best friends is never without her knitting projects when she leaves the house for the same reason. And a book is much easier to transport than needles and yarn!)
- I Immersed myself in book culture– as a creative business owner, its really easy to only surround yourself with business or entrepreneurial stuff. Which is all great. BUT, what makes you a whole person (and in my experience, a better, more successful creative) are the things you love beyond how you make money. I saw a big shift in my desire and ability to read more when I started connecting with other “book people”. I started following bookish hashtags on Instagram for inspiration. I subscribed to a few reading-related podcasts. (I’ll post lists of both of those in the show notes on the Splendidly Curious blog for those who are interested!) Hearing from other enthusiastic readers and seeing other people reading a LOT made me excited to grab my book and skip binge watching Netflix or an evening or two. Not to mention it contributed to my huge TBR (that’s To Be Read for the uninitiated) pile.
- Treat it like part of my job – I say this a lot, and I won’t stop saying it any time soon: showing up to your work inspired and ready to create IS part of your job. It’s not a luxury. It’s a requirement to be able to do the work you do in a meaningful way. You need to actually put time into your calendar, your planner, your day in general for getting inspired. Sometimes I use that white space for reading. I’m a morning person so I get up 30 minutes earlier than I used to, and a few days a week I use that extra time for reading. You don’t need to be sitting in a bubble bath or on a beach to read a page or two- you really can fit it into every day life if you make it a priority. Thinking about it in terms of preparation to do you job amy help you prioritize it a little more!
Favorite Books I’ve Read Recently [*contains affiliate links]:
Manhattan Beach: A Novel *
State of Wonder: A Novel *
The Night Circus*
Lilac Girls: A Novel*
(want to see what I’m currently reading? I post about it frequently in my Instagram stories!)
Recent Audible Recommendations:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Book 1* (the entire series is wonderful in audio form)
The Royal We*
Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice*
Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel*
Murder on the Orient Express: An Audible Original Drama*
Bookish Hashtags I Follow:
Also, I’m a member of the Book of The Month Club and I get curated reads in the mail. If you’re interested, join using my referral link here* and you’ll get a free book!