If you google “how to beat a reading slump” you will get a thousand recipes with golden tips like “read something different”, “meditate”, “join a book club”, or “reread old favorites”.
Yeah, those tips can work for some people. And I shared a bunch of them on my Instagram page already. But I have three bulletproof tips, starting with one that you’re not gonna like but it’s the most important.
1. Stop calling it a reading slump
I’ve been there, calling it a “reading slump” was easier than admitting I didn’t want to read and for a while. I just wanted to binge-watch some series instead, or do anything else but reading.
I get it, sometimes you’re just not in the mood. It’s fine to admit that. You don’t need to label it. You don’t need to become part of a group of “reading slumpers” because you want to spend the nearly zero free time of your day doing something else. Don’t be afraid nor embarrassed to say you don’t want to read. And don’t blame it on a buzz-word crutch.
However, if you want to call it that, because it lacks a better word, don’t let it become your thing either.
If you’ve been telling everyone for three years that you’re in a reading slump while you secretly want to do something else instead, please stop it, and force yourself to read a few pages of a good book, or go through the internet tips. Do something about it.
If it’s been too long, it’s not doing any good to you. Reading is necessary. Even if it’s been a month, to be honest, that’s more like laziness now instead of you just wanting to do other stuff with your free time. Yep. Laziness, not a reading slump.
2. Try another way to feed your story cravings
Sometimes it’s not because we can’t read. It’s the simple fact that we’re looking for a story that doesn’t exist or a book that hasn’t been written yet, and anything that’s not what we’re craving is not what we want to read.
That’s why I like when people suggest “reading-slumpers” to ignore the fact that they “can’t read” and just tell them to watch movies or series or write.
Yes! Maybe the story you’re looking for is in a moving picture, or the thing you want to learn is in a video or online course.
Oh, and how I understand this… Maybe the story you can’t find anywhere is inside your head and writing is what you need right now, the only way to put it out, the only way for you to read the story you’re looking for. You need to read your own words, that may be exactly what you’re craving.
But again, don’t ignore it for too long. Reading is still necessary when you’re a writer. That’s obvious but worth reminding.
3. Find the bad cue and reset the habit loop
We talked about routine in the previous post and I mentioned Charles Duhigg’s habit loop. Cue, routine, reward.
Find your bad cue. What is triggering you to break the habit of reading? What’s making you not read instead of reinforcing this great habit?
It can be your saying every day that you can’t read and because you’re on a “reading slump”. Have you ever thought about it? The routine is not reading, and the reward for that is f— knows what. But the cue is you labeling something that doesn’t exist.
Eliminate the bad cue right now by finding the source of it. Then reset your habit loop by replacing your negative trigger with a nice positive cue.
I know. We can honestly feel tired, overwhelmed, distracted, disturbed. So, try reading at different times of the day and see what works best.
You may find out that reading at noon is impossible because too much went on in the morning and your brain can’t focus on reading after that. And you might realize that 5:30 in the morning is a perfect time for reading. So, there’s no doubt. Wake up at 5:30, sit, and read.
The best way to get rid of a reading slump? First, get rid of the expression “reading slump”. Strike it out from your vocabulary. Stop believing it exists. Then, try other ways to feed your cravings for a while, until you refresh your mind, then reset the habit loop to eliminate the triggers that are preventing you from reading.
Now, have a good read. You’re welcome.
Between the lines…”
What do you think about reading slumps? And why do you think they happen if we assume they exist?