I was one of those kids who was always reading.
Much to my brother’s dismay, I prefered to get lost in a good book. (He was more of the stay-out-even-when-it’s-pitch-black-outside-but-you-still-wanna-play-football type of kid.)
As I got older, other interests and studies took priority. Fiction fell aside. I mean, I was at university, then working full-time and then building a business on the side! WHO HAS TIME FOR FICTION.
But that excuse got old quickly.
The words of Marie Forleo rang in my memory: what isn’t scheduled isn’t real. And then a Q&A sesh for the mastermind I’m in with Melissa Cassera ended with us talking about (amongst other things) coffee and our fave TV series and reading fiction.
Enough hints already.
So when it came to setting my goals for the year, I found myself writing “tend to creative endeavours” before I really knew what was happening. (Side note: I find those came out of nowhere type of goals are the ones that I have a LOT of fun making progress on.)
And part of that goal is getting back into reading fiction. Probably not as much as I did as a kid, but still a lot more than I’ve done for most of adulthood so far.
Why “read fiction” rather than just “read more”? Firstly, it’s a more specific goal. Secondly, I’ve read a LOT of business and self-help books over the past three years and to be honest, I’m a bit burnt out with them. After a while, you just end up reading a lot of the same ideas over and over again (or worse – too many conflicting ideas!). You end up giving yourself WAY too many things to work on. And you end up overwhelmed, exhausted and not wanting to pick up another book for fear of having something ELSE you need to implement RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT.
Please know that I’m not saying that business and self-help books aren’t valuable – they are and I’ve learnt a lot from them over the years – but what can be dangerous is our obsession with them.
So I took business/self-help book burn out as another hint to branch out and fiction is something I’m reading purely for fun. And it just so happens to have some pretty awesome side-effects:
Less phone use. After my initial reaction of “I don’t have time to read fiction!” I realised that if I cut down on phone use, I actually have plenty of time to read. (I highly recommend the app Moment if you want a check up on your phone use. It’s pretty eye opening and you can’t argue with the data!) So, instead of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning, and scrolling through Instagram as the last thing before bed, I’m bookending (ha.) my day with fiction. Which means that I’m…
Sleeping better. Because I’m no longer getting caught on my phone late at night, I’m getting to bed earlier and sleeping a whooole lot better thanks to less screen time messing with my melatonin levels.
Writing is easier. I’ve always been a writer (and loved it) BUT I have noticed that it’s a lot easier to create content when I need to (including opportunities that pop up with tight deadlines). I spend less time trying to think of ideas and more time actually writing them. Whoop whoop!
Feeling more creative. As a fun way to track my reading habit this year, I added a 2018 reading list section to my Library Pinterest board (complete with 1-2 sentence reviews of each book) and then stumbled onto the world of reading trackers for bullet journals. (!!!) So I decided to create my own paper tracker based on one I loved from Pinterest (you can see a sneak peek in the 2018 Reading List archived story on my Instagram profile). Not only was this a fun and creative exercise, I’m now even more excited about my fiction reading project for this year!
Content quality is up. You’ve probably heard it said before: reading makes you a better writer. That’s totally, 100% true. I’ve edited some older blog posts lately and I’ve been able to make them noticeably better because my writing has improved. And yes, time and practice are always factors, but I believe fiction is too.
Bottom line? Reading fiction makes you a better writer and storyteller.
So if you’re in a bit of a creative funk, or if content has been especially hard to create lately, try cracking open a good fiction book. And maybe set aside the business and self-help books for a bit.
Because perhaps it’s time take your creativity for a much-needed checkup.
How about an Instagram challenge that’s like taking jelly vitamins shaped like dinosaurs, but way cooler?
I knew you’d be in 😉
The Content Her Way Creativity Boost is a 10-day Instagram challenge with prompts + encouragement to help you amp up your creativity (even if you don’t think you’re a “creative person”).
Creativity doesn’t require magic. Sometimes it just needs a good dose of Austen or the latest light-hearted murder mystery.
(That’s totally a thing by the way. Try A Little Murder.)
Sign up today and learn how to create habits that feel good and make you happy: because a military-like strategy to creating content is soooo 5 years ago. (In fact, did you ever really like that approach? Yeah. Thought not.)