In Others’ Words: No Shortcuts

I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life. Really. I was one of those kids in school who didn’t moan about writing papers for English class and who thought spelling bees were fun. When it came time to choose my major for college, I asked myself, “What do I love enough that I wouldn’t mind doing it every day for the rest of my life?”

The answer: writing.

So I majored in journalism — and never once thought of switching to something else.

Marriage and motherhood put writing on the backburner for a lot of years — and I have no regrets about that. But when I decided to step back onto the writing road more than a decade ago, I learned I had a lot of hard work to do to scrape the rust off my journalism degree — and my writing skills.

It’s a good thing I think rewriting is fun.

The one area I struggle in is keeping on my reading — reading a book just for the fun of it. Despite owning a Kindle, I still have To Be Read piles scattered around my house (my apologies to my husband who thought the Kindle purchase would solve that problem) — and I have hundreds of unread books loaded onto my e-reader too.

But if Larry L. King is right — and I think he is — to be a better writer I need to be reading ย  more. Novels. Books on the writing craft. Non-fiction books. The Word.

The question is always: How?

In Your Words: So, friends, in the midst of your busy lives — all the doing and the deadlines and the writing and rewriting: How do you find time to read? And what are you reading right now?ย 



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  1. January 9, 2013, 4:33 am   /  Reply

    Thank God for Kindle. It (or my iphone) goes where I go. Lunch time, standing in line, waiting for appointments, 2-3 long soaks a week in a hot tub, 20-30 minutes before bed. I used to read a couple of books a week. Now I do good to read two a month!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:40 am   /  Reply

      I do love my Kindle — I just need to take advantage of it more. And I have my Kindle loaded on my iPhone too.

  2. Elaine Clampitt
    January 9, 2013, 6:24 am   /  Reply

    I echo Sharon, I love my Kindle. I’m now on my fourth one having received the new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. Love it! I tend to read before I go to bed at night. That is my main reading time. However, if I’m really caught up in a story, I snatch moments whenever I can. It also helps that I read fast. Now that I’m being more diligent in my writing, my reading isn’t what it used to be (avg. 4 books per week). I do try to read at least a little from a writing craft book every day or listen to part of a workshop from ACFW or RWA, etc. to continue to learn. I also read the MBT blogs and some agents blogs every day. Does that count? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:42 am   /  Reply

      Oh, yes, blogs count! The MBT blog is excellent (and yes, I am biased), and so is Books and Such, Rachelle Gardner’s, Katie Ganshert’s, Keli Gwyn’s (if you like historical romance … the MBT Ponderers (they just revamped their blog) …

  3. January 9, 2013, 6:43 am   /  Reply

    I don’t own a Kindle, not sure when I will. I like hefting a book to read when I first go to bed, and during the night when I’m awake. I read fast, get a lot done, and enjoy it. But my prepping for teaching college? During the day with marker and pen in hand. I need to read more writing craft books that way, too.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:42 am   /  Reply

      For me, it is never an “either/or” choice between my Kindle and a “real” book, Dee. I will never choose one over the other.

  4. Roxanne Sherwood Gray
    January 9, 2013, 6:56 am   /  Reply

    There aren’t enough hours in my days — and I have insomnia, so I have more hours than most! My TBR pile is high, and I recently discovered a nonfiction author whose books I want to read, stacking the pile higher. I don’t know how to manage it yet, but I’m trying to figure this out for my life.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:43 am   /  Reply

      No fair not naming the NF author, Roxanne! I’m curious!

  5. Jessica R. Patch
    January 9, 2013, 7:02 am   /  Reply

    Honestly, it helps that I’m a really fast reader. I always have been. I spend a total of one hour a day in car lines so I use that time to read! In the evening, after my kids are done with homework and we’re winding down, I’ll read (if sports is on if not I watch a show w/DH).

    And in between books, while one is cooling and one is percolating, I read lots of books! I just received Joanne Bischof’s Though My Heart is Torn in the mail so that’s what I’ll be reading in the car line today. I just finished My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade and A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin–loved, loved, loved them both! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:44 am   /  Reply

      I do read in car lines — when I am not editing my own work in progress.
      And Joanne’s book is at the top of my list right now.

  6. Jeanne T
    January 9, 2013, 7:21 am   /  Reply

    Finding the balance between writing and reading is so tricky. Don’t laugh (okay, I know you probably will), but I read in the bathroom when I’m getting ready for the day and getting ready for bed. I try and grab other snatches of time during the day to read a few pages as well. I have a reading buddy. We check in with each other regularly to chart our progress through our books. I have been averaging a book every week or two. It’s not as fast as I once did, but I have less time since I’m writing now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m having fun hearing when others read. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:45 am   /  Reply

      I’m not laughing, Jeanne, I am nodding my head — and smiling.
      I read while I put my makeup on. I do, I do.
      And I read in the tub, but then it’s often magazines because I love those too. Real Simple, anyone?

  7. January 9, 2013, 7:48 am   /  Reply

    Reading, writing, and re-writing – what a wonderful life! Your journalism degree shows in your beautiful writing style. No apparent dust traces. Reading for leisure has become intentional for me. For instance, reading to endorse a book or reading a friend’s latest book that doesn’t fall in my normal repertoire. But in both instances I find that I learn. And grow. And observe new writing techniques along the way. What a wonderful way to do it!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:46 am   /  Reply

      Thank you for the compliment, Donna. I like to say that my journalism training beat the adverbs and adjectives right out of me! Had a lot to relearn when I crossed over to the Dark Side of the writing road — but I still write tight, even as a novelist.

  8. January 9, 2013, 7:50 am   /  Reply

    I’m a fast reader as well, and do a lot of my reading on the recumbent bicycle or eliptical…and sometimes I just take the day off and read.

    • January 9, 2013, 11:06 am   /  Reply

      Forgot to say what book I’m reading: Where Treasure Hides written by Johnnie Alexander Donley. Absolutely a heart tugging novel set against the backdrop of WWII.

      • Beth Vogt
        January 9, 2013, 11:46 am   /  Reply

        Oh, yet another book for the To Be Read Pile.

        And now I am getting an idea …

  9. January 9, 2013, 8:18 am   /  Reply

    I bring a book with me pretty much whenever I leave the house. Any (un)expected waiting and I can just whip out my book and it does the trick to curb my impatience. I read every night before I go to bed (usually fiction) because it helps me to separate myself from my day and whirling thoughts that might not let me sleep.

    Maybe it’s just a mind trick to prevent myself feeling guilty, but also I will sometimes take an hour during the day to readโ€ฆtelling myself it’s to learn more about different styles and structure in writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:47 am   /  Reply

      Yet another reason to like you, Marney — you “mind trick.” I like that!

  10. Cathy West
    January 9, 2013, 8:20 am   /  Reply

    I love reading but when I am really into a book, that’s all I want to do! I have to try to balance things. I just finished reading for endorsement – Christine Lindsay’s next book, Captured by Moonlight, and it was awesome! Before that I read this amazing book called Catch A Falling Star. Perhaps you have heard of it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Next up is Olivia Newport’s new release, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. And I also read quickly, which is good. I have tons of books downloaded that I want to read, but I also need to get going on my WIP. Reading great fiction inspires me, but sometimes has the opposite effect and I have to be careful not to compare what I’m doing to other authors…the horrible trap!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:48 am   /  Reply

      That’s the smile you put on my face, Cathy.
      And I have lots of fun getting early glimpses of your novels …

  11. January 9, 2013, 8:22 am   /  Reply

    This has been one of my biggest struggles too. I work full time, so my evenings are really about writing. I think I’m going to try to read for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. We’ll see how that shakes out.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:48 am   /  Reply

      You want me to check on you, Lindsay?

      • January 9, 2013, 1:54 pm   /  Reply

        Yes! We can have another fun Facebook message chat. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you, friend!

        • Beth Vogt
          January 9, 2013, 6:16 pm   /  Reply

          Love you too, Lindsay — and see you soon!

  12. January 9, 2013, 8:27 am   /  Reply

    I struggle with fitting in reading time too, but normally I can manage a chapter here and there throughout a day. It makes for a slow process sometimes…but I love to read so I do what I can. I’m currently reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. What a great resource!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:48 am   /  Reply

      Love that book!!!

  13. January 9, 2013, 8:34 am   /  Reply

    I’m off this weekend for a hockey tournament and will be armed with craft books and my tablet to read a bit. The town I’m going to MIGHT have a grocery store…so I can kiss shopping goodbye. And my son goes to sleep way before I do, so I’ll be getting out the pen and triying tah lern stuf.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:49 am   /  Reply

      LOL — so what are you reading? My daughter, CJ, is in a play this spring, so maybe I’ll have reading time during practices.

      • January 9, 2013, 12:00 pm   /  Reply

        James Scott Bell stuff. And maybe finish The Girl in the Gatehouse.

        • Beth Vogt
          January 9, 2013, 6:15 pm   /  Reply

          I love & respect James Scott Bell — and I have a wonderful James Scott Bell story!

  14. January 9, 2013, 9:37 am   /  Reply

    Less Jess said, it helps that I tend to read pretty quickly. I also love to read on the elliptical. I’m in a different workout routine now which only has me on the elliptical a couple days a week, so that’s cut down my reading time somewhat. Boo. But I’m always in the middle of one novel or another–I can’t stay away from stories.

    Right now I’m reading Tamera Alexander’s latest book. I saw it on so many “Best of 2012” lists that I had to get my hands on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:50 am   /  Reply

      Yes, those “Best of” lists — they only made my To Be Read piles higher …
      And I do read on the treadmill …

  15. Loree Huebner
    January 9, 2013, 9:38 am   /  Reply

    I just fit it in, here and there, during the day when I can.

    I saw the Lincoln movie and loved it, so I got the book that it is based on – Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Excellent!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:51 am   /  Reply

      Oh, let’s not even start on movies I want to see … but I do want to read Les Mis, having seen the Broadway production and the movie.

  16. January 9, 2013, 10:57 am   /  Reply

    I love, love, love to read on my iPhone with the Kindle app. It’s pretty much perfect! I can reduce/enlarge the type, highlight, bookmark, switch easily between books, etc. Plus, I always have it with me.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:51 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Kathy. But sometimes I have to remember my husband is in the car with me!

  17. January 9, 2013, 11:00 am   /  Reply

    Even though I have a Kindle, I still love dragging a hard copy around with me where ever I go. I need to highlight and make notes. Reading triggers writing ideas — a turn of phrase, a great word picture.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 11:51 am   /  Reply

      We aren’t even going to go into your book addiction … I know how much you love to read!!

  18. January 9, 2013, 1:55 pm   /  Reply

    I finished Wild right before Christmas and now I’m “reading” Kite Runner. Not sure I’ll finish it before it’s time to return to the library, but my new best reading tip is books on CD.

    It’s harder to get through one now that the holidays are over and we’re not driving back and forth to see kids, but it’s a great options when I’m in the car a good bit.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 6:15 pm   /  Reply

      Books on CD — an “audio” option. I keep debating about this …

  19. Sally Hepworth
    January 9, 2013, 1:58 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve just started using audible – audio books! I downloaded the app to my phone and loaded a couple of books to try it. Now I plug in my headphones all the time – at the park w the kids, while doing housework, in the car, while making dinner. I am now “reading” a book a week. I still read properly bc I love seeing the words, but audible helps me get through my must reads. And as a writer, listening to how words sound can be really enlightening too. Oh, and a lot of Maeve Binchy’s are narrated by an Irish person, and the accent in lovely

    • Beth Vogt
      January 9, 2013, 6:14 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks for mentioning Audible. I’ve debated on this and debated on this — I’m not an audible learner — but I’m going to take the plunge and give it a try!

      • January 9, 2013, 11:02 pm   /  Reply

        Beth, just saw this comment. I’m not either. I’ve a visual learner so I didn’t think I’d enjoy books on CD. Actually like it more except the drawback that I can’t skim and move on. Okay, I’m finished with the sales pitch. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Susan Tuttle
    January 10, 2013, 8:36 am   /  Reply

    I tend to read late at night, when the house is quiet and I’m too tired to keep writing. I’m a fast reader, so I can easily consume a book in a few hours. And that’s good, b/c when the story catches me, I won’t put it down, even if the clock is dinging 2 am:)

    • Beth Vogt
      January 10, 2013, 9:44 am   /  Reply

      I love a quiet house … but I hate when the alarm clock dings at 6 a.m. and it’s time to get up! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. January 10, 2013, 12:57 pm   /  Reply

    Try working in a library full-time… I tell you Beth, when those carts of shiny, new books come in, well, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I love non-fiction, as well, so I usually have one of those going beside a romance or two. I drag stacks of books home, get about 1/3 read. ๐Ÿ™ Pay a substantial amount of fines. :/
    Right now I have: “The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors” (a mere 1,000 pages of small print-good, but slow-go, may have to skim and go back later), “Love’s Reckoning” by Laura Frantz(loved Morrow Little) and You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren (always wonderful).
    Can’t wait to read “Catch a Falling Star”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you heard Perry Como song by same title? Love Perry Como.
    Re: audio book-I have such a strong impression in my mind of the characters that, if I don’t care for the reader’s voice or inflection, it spoils it for me. Long car trips are about the only time I do those.

  22. Beth Vogt
    January 10, 2013, 1:00 pm   /  Reply

    Oh, more books … I love the Brontes book … and you’re going to love Susie’s book.And yes, I love the Perry Como song … need to post that on my author FB page.

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