I love to read. And I love to take a large amount of time and really focus on my reading. Nothing makes me happier than a day spent curled up with a book (apart from one where it’s warm and I can be sat outside reading). So it follows that I love the readathon.
It’s true, I do. I sit there and I start reading and I enjoy it. Then a moment hits when I lose the love. I think I’ve hit that point in every single readathon. It’s like I’m going along and this is good, I’m loving it and it’s everything I want in the day. And then all of a sudden this readathon idea is the stupidest one in the world and I never should have done it and really why do people do this to themselves?! Now I’ve been doing the readathon for several years that self-loathing voice can add in “you’re stupid. You decided last time not to do this again and look what you’ve done.” It’s not pretty but it’s real.
I know that a big part of that is probably to do with my mental health and the pressure I put on myself to achieve and be perfect. But that doesn’t make it easy. I almost expect that every time now and I try to put some strategies in place to manage it. Sometimes it’s because I’m seeing updates on Twitter of people who have read way more than I have. Or I’m not loving my books. A lot of the time it doesn’t seem to be for any real reason which means my strategies don’t always work. However I wanted to share those in case they are useful for anyone else.
My number 1 thing is to carve out a specific time to read in the day that’s non-negotiable. It’s sort of my own personal readathon tradition. I have a favourite dinner that goes in the oven, takes a while to cook and needs no attention during that time. That’s my nonstop reading time, I turn off the Wi-Fi, pick up my book and lose myself. If that’s the only time I read without being distracted I try to be pleased with that.
And that’s what the readathon is about really isn’t it? I’ve learned that for me just taking the time to read is more important than the massive number of books and pages I could have got through had I forced myself. I’ve not been reading as much this year as before. I really miss it but I just haven’t had the motivation to read I’ve had before. In fact in the last few months most of my reading has been in those non-negotiable reading times – on the train or waiting for appointments. If I’ve been reading at home it’s mostly been finishing something I started elsewhere.
Secondly I listen to audiobooks as well. I find I can switch between books and audiobooks with no break in a way I can’t when I finish an actual book. I can craft or rest or sort my messy kitchen and listen and feel like I’m making progress on more than just my reading if that’s something I need.
I no longer make a plan for what I read because I rarely stick to it. It can feel like pressure if I’ve planned four books and get stuck on two. It’s not a failure but it’s how I’ve felt (damn you depression). Sometimes the book I’ve been saving for the readathon isn’t what grabs my attention on the day. And even if I do start reading it that doesn’t mean I won’t put it aside for something else.
I try to start with a short book so I can feel accomplished. And that’s often kidlit. This year I’m wondering about rereading Matilda by Roald Dahl as I’m going to see the musical soon.
Finally when I’ve really wanted to keep reading but not had the motivation reaching out on social media can help find encouragement and likely another reader feeling the same to sympathise with.
I’m pleased to say that now I have strategies in place (and in part am in a better place with my mental health) I usually end up taking a break and then getting back into my reading and finding the love once again.
How do you keep motivated during the readathon and deal with those down moments?