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D.C. McNaughton: Learning to Read Again

As our final guest post of this year, we're thrilled to have writer D.C. McNaughton here to give us a few tips for learning to read again when it's been difficult. While the OcTBR Challenge event is always a fun and somewhat collaborative way to get engaged in reading, it might not work for everyone. Sometimes life is hard, you're not in the right head space, or perhaps you've been away from it for too long.

So what can you do to fall back into reading?

Your friends are happily diving into books this season, but you’re struggling to find the same enthusiasm. A ton of ‘To Be Reads’ sit on your bookshelf because, recently, you’ve struggled to commit to reading them. Fear not—learning to read again after a long break can be difficult, especially in times of world hardship. Life is fast-paced, and finding time to connect with our ‘happy place’ may be difficult.

When I’m feeling down, or unmotivated, I have five favorite ways to lure myself back into reading books:

  1. Turn off electronics. Set phones aside, possibly in a different room. Sometimes just seeing the display screen can be a distraction. (If long periods away from the phone are difficult, start with a timeframe you’re comfortable with, even if it’s only ten minutes.)

  2. Tell a friend, or family member, that you’re trying to read. Letting someone else know our plans can make it easier to follow through with them.

  3. Create a ‘reading ritual’. Make it the same every time. When reading, wear a specific pair of soft pants, or drink a specific tea, or light a sage incense. Something simple and repeatable. These habits can teach our brains that it’s time to relax.

  4. Start reading new books without expectations. Expecting the wrong thing from a book can lead to disappointment, and unnecessary DNF’s (Did Not Finish). Don’t overthink it.

  5. Try reading outside. On a front porch, at a park bench, or even in a bookstore.

These methods may not work for everyone. What’s most important is to not be too hard on yourself while you’re trying to learn to read again. It’s not a race. Maybe your friends can get through one book a day, but you may only get through ten pages. It’s OKAY.

To read this year, the most important thing is to not judge yourself.

[If you’d like to hear more on this subject, especially if you’re a writer struggling to get back into reading, check out our ‘…And It’s Writing’ podcast episode 043, ‘Reading is Hard’. Available anywhere podcasts live.]

D.C. McNaughton (he/she/they) is an oil painter and adult speculative fiction writer based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Once an industry illustrator for role-playing games like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons, the last four years have been primarily focused on foolishly (perhaps) quitting those illustration jobs, and following their dream of writing stories—a dream that has come with a lion’s share of study.

D.C. is a sex positive, genderfluid, pansexual, polyamorous creator. They currently live on a homestead with their wonderfully huge family of six, with chickens, and vegetables, and horses, and bees (someday soon).

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