Make Time for It
Find some bit of time you can carve out as reading time. Maybe it’s early in the morning. Perhaps it’s while you have your coffee. Maybe it’s during lunch or between 4:00 and 4:15. There’s no right or wrong time. Make it specific to your life. Make it a priority. Come back to it regularly. It’ll add up, even if it’s the tiniest amount.
Don’t Be Afraid to Bail. If a book isn’t working for you, chuck it, even if it’s a favourite author or on a favourite topic. Nothing works for everyone. No one’s grading you—no one’s watching at all. Defend your reading time from your inner critic. The more your reading time is consistently enjoyable, the easier it is to keep coming back. And vice versa.
Choose Catnip Books
What are you genuinely interested in? Read that. See if you can go beyond “interested.” Ask yourself, “what fascinates me?” Even if it’s something that horrifies you or pisses you off. It doesn’t matter if the topic is cool. Ask yourself what makes your bells ring. What subjects get you wanting to know more and more? Virtually any subject has more books written about it than any one person can gobble up. Find your thing. Find your things. Dive in. Those topics will undoubtedly connect to other things. Explore those, too, if you like.
Choose Catnip Authors
Whose books have knocked your socks off in the past? Read more of theirs. Read everything they ever wrote. Reread favourites. Find out which authors light them up. Then read those.
Buy Books. If you can afford to, buy the books you read
When you do that, you’ve got skin in the game. You want to get your money’s worth. Books aren’t that expensive. Even a fancy new book costs about the same as a round of snacks at the movies. And you get to keep it forever. You can lend it out. Every time you see it on your shelf, it’ll remind you how it felt to read it or what insights it contained. And you’ve also sent a high-five to the author, letting them know what they wrote landed with you. They appreciate it. Writers like people reading their books. They like to eat. They like their publishers, knowing people want to read more from them.
Think of Reading as Self-Care
Reading isn’t an indulgence. It’s food for the soul. It’s the direct equivalent of eating well and exercising. Taking in creative work of any kind fills a person with life. It connects you to others. It takes you places you’ve never been. It validates the experiences you’ve had that you may not have realized are shared with others. It changes the way you look at the world and yourself. It’s refueling. You’re worth it. No car can run on an empty tank.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Books
Most of us put reading books at the top of a hierarchy of Which Creative Things Are Good For Me and Count. Books are for smart people, we think. If I don’t read books, I’m not smart. I shouldn’t waste so much time with all that other crap I spend so much time doing. As a reader of many books, I’m here to say that idea is pure unadulterated balderdash! Take in creative work in any form that connects with you. Audiobooks count. Podcasts count. Magazine and blog articles count. Movies and TV shows and albums and TikTok videos – they all count. What makes the difference is taking them in with intention.
Picture yourself as a flower in a pot
The creative work you take in is fertilizer to your soil. You need the kind that works for you. Embrace the person you are. No one’s judging for not reading Proust. In fact, people aren’t thinking about you at all. They’re thinking about themselves. You’re freer than you realized. Enjoy it. Enrich yourself.
Take in something creative that makes you feel alive. Revisit it as often as you like. See what else it opens up for you. Follow those sparks of magic anywhere and everywhere for the rest of your life. It’ll add energy and insight to everything you do. It’s a great way to live. ◆
Spending 3 hours chatting with Mackenzie Gray is like going to a spa. One leaves feeling rejuvenated, enlightened and more than a little inspired. MackenzieGray is the living embodiment of the healing power of creativity.
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