How to climb out of a reading rut

Recently I’ve had trouble getting absorbed in the books I’m reading. I asked Twitter for advice, and compiled the suggestions here.

Recently I’ve been experiencing a reading rut. I used to find it easy to get absorbed in a book and forget the world around me, but lately I’ve been struggling to stay engaged when I read.

I tweeted about this a few days ago and discovered I wasn’t the only one. A lot of people chimed in with their troubles concentrating long enough to read and their inability to get sucked into books. (And who said Twitter was dead?)

A tweet by A.S. Akkalon that reads:

Recently I've been having trouble getting into the books I read. I can enjoy them, but they never transport me. I don't know if it's them or me. Has this happened to anyone else? Any ideas?

#WritingCommunity #books
The tweet that started it all.

I also got a lot of useful suggestions.

Here I compile the main theories for why reading ruts occur and a collection of suggestions on how to deal with a rut. If you’re struggling with your reading, I hope some of the advice helps.

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How important is the first paragraph of a novel?

I took four fantasy novels and predicted what each was about based on its first paragraph. Yes, the first paragraph of a novel is important.

Writers are told they have to grab their readers by the throat in their first sentence. Attention spans have gone the way of the megalodon, and if you don’t grab a reader straight away you’ve lost them.

A first sentence should do everything. Be a microcosm of the entire story. Introduce a fascinating character. Be surprising. Set reader expectations. Foreshadow the story problem. Raise a question. Wash the dishes. Hang out the laundry. Pick the kids up from school.

Okay, maybe not all those.

I agree first sentences are important, but how much can they really do?

I decided to find out.

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A plan for overcoming writer’s block

I’ve been struck by creativity paralysis, aka writer’s block. My plan for overcoming it is to binge read these highly recommended books.

About a week ago I was confident about my writing. I was excited about starting to write the sequel to my current WIP, and you guys convinced me it was okay to do that rather than working on my unrelated book.

Then with three hours free, I got ready to sit down for some brainstorming… and got some stressful news from work.

Fyi, I resigned from that job. I left that job several weeks ago. It should no longer be following and stressing me.

I tried to put all work thoughts aside and started brainstorming.

I came up with lots of ideas… and loathed all of them.

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Ten self-help books I read so you don’t have to

I read ten self-help books and took away various insights, some of which are helpful. I summarise the helpful ones and the others here.

At their best, self-helps books are amazing because they literally teach you how to help yourself, and inspire you to do so. Want to become a millionaire by sitting on your couch playing video games? There will be a self-help book for that.

However, some self-help books would have been better if they’d remained blog posts, and some should never have been written at all.

I forget most of what I read in most self-help books, maybe because it isn’t relevant to me, or maybe because I’m too busy trying to put Princess on a diet without starving Runs from Jeans.

A year later I might remember one main point, and I’m fine with that. It was probably the most important point.

Today I’m going to share some of these main points.

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Why I haven’t read your book

I usually try to read books written by my friends, but I often fail. Here are the main reasons why.

If you make friends with enough unpublished writers and stick around a few years, you find yourself friends with a lot of published writers. And because you’re a supportive friend, that means a lot of books you want to buy and read.

I always start with good intentions.

I like you. I want to buy your book, read it, love it, and leave a helpful, honest review on Amazon for your future fans to find.

Usually I manage the first step quite well.

The second step is harder. The third even harder.

Please allow me to offer some possible explanations why I haven’t read or reviewed your book.

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