Word Aversion–Conquering Reader’s Block

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Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Okay, I had no clue what the term reader’s block meant. Once again, Open Book afforded me an opportunity to explore a new area of literature. Thanks, guys.

After a few Google clicks, I got the gist of the circumstance. Reader’s block is when one finds it hard to read, sometimes even making picking up a book difficult.

Your eyes glaze over, and you can’t get past the first paragraph on the page. Or perhaps you can’t will yourself to pick up a book in the first place. – Mental Floss

The reasons for reader’s block may include layers of motivation, comprehension, time constraints and volume.

ildroctobergiveawayA busy life can present a challenge to reading. One may only have a few precious minutes to devote to reading, especially for pleasure, which makes cracking open a book or app difficult. Who hasn’t sat down to scan some prose only to have their reading time interrupted by a partner or child barging in on them, a phone ring or notification bing? Distractions to reading will break one’s flow, making it difficult to pick up a book in anticipation of an interruption.

A text’s density may also impede a desire to read. Many of my students avoid reading the range of philosophic and theoretical academic works assigned to them. Despite any enrichment reading may offer, columns of a peer-review article or the tiny text of scholarly waxing makes cognitive demands that can be a buzzkill, taking away precious time to read something enjoyable. Whenever possible, I try to mix things up for students and myself. After some “dry” text, I will pick up a guilty pleasure read.

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My genre of choice is romance (big surprise), not because the genre is shallow but it offers stories focused on facets of love and relationships. I am open to other genres, except for literary fiction. I like my storytelling straight and to the point. Although there are some exceptions like The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Bluest Eye, I have little patience for dense (no, it’s not rich), convoluted prose. Just give me a good character-driven plot, and don’t take pages upon pages to deliver.

I have a friend who will put two books together when shopping for a read. She compares the thickness and selects the thicker of two stories that interest her. I am the opposite. I will choose the thinner. I am always on the search for impactful books that authors took minimal pages to tell the story. There are a plethora of books out there, and I get a lot of requests to read. I am also a greedy reader. I want access to as many stories as possible. I have set aside longer books to read shorter ones and short stories, the quality of the story notwithstanding.  Below are two good books on my shelf.

Ask me which one I finished. Go ahead, ask.  I have reached a stage in my life where interest in devoting my limited time to four-hundred pages of one is not an option. When faced with having to read one, I get a big ole case of reader’s block.

Adults may be bombarded with having to read throughout the day. Yeah, time in front of the screen still counts as reading. Emails, blog posts, social media inundate people with all sorts of information. Sometimes, the idea of reading more can be daunting, making it hard to start a book. Selecting a title that offers downtime from all of the data is not always easy. By the end of the day, even an avid reader may not want to see one more word.

Authors may find reading taxing when added to days filled with writing, critique partnering, and editing.  Writing requires a level of proficiency in analyzing and editing text, which can be difficult to shut off and enjoy a story. Because I do it professionally, it is hard for me to suppress my internal content editor, blocking my connection to a story. I must purposefully ignore structural issues that jump at me from the page or tablet. I can only imagine what copyeditors and proofreaders go through when trying to shift to reading for entertainment and personal fulfillment.

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As one’s TBR list grows, the sheer volume of books can keep someone from reading. Setting short-term reading goals and giving books a number to organize which to read next can help with deciding from a vast list of titles. Decide how many books to read in a month and number a set of them from the TBR list. Consider life’s demands and time constraints. When and where is reading possible? Maybe there is not enough time to read that epic but a couple of novellas from the list may be a good fit.

Honor your love for storytelling and do whatever it takes to give it the time it deserves. It may be the best way to bust down any reader’s block.


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3 thoughts on “Word Aversion–Conquering Reader’s Block

Add yours

  1. I’ve certainly read more widely since becoming a writer, particularly now that I’ve been exposed to all the great Indie authors that inhabit the blogging world. And the ease of reading on my phone means that I do more, as the books are always there when I have a minute.


  2. I’ve never judged a book by it’s thickness. Of course, I read Hawaii when I was in eighth grade! (about 1000 pages)


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