On Writing: Read Less

ibooks-shelfSince 2011 I’ve kept a log of books I’ve read and the dates I read them. At the beginning of each year I go back and count the number of books I read that year.

So far my average has been about 30 books a year.

And then it dawned on me. I’ve got three books in development, two ofEditing_Red_Pen1-300x225 which are to be completed by the end of this year, and I’m only allotted so much time within the year to write them, then edit them, edit them, and edit them again.

Looking at my track record of reading 30 books a year and having one book published every two years, you’d think I was striving to be a professional reader, not writer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I will never underestimate the power and benefit of reading, especially for writers. You can’t possibly write without constantly reading, so why am I resolving to read less?

Out of 365 days a year, there are a total of 8,760 hours.

I sleep on average seven hours a night, so that’s 1,251 hours I’m forced to disregard, which means I only have 7,509 waking hours.

mathWith 2,640 of those hours being spent at work (and commuting to work), I’m now brought down to 4,869 hours.

Additionally, I have a daughter to play with and a wife to adore, movies to watch, and walks to take, so averaging in three hours a day plus weekends, I’m now at 2,709 hours available to devote to writing.

But wait. There’s time spent doing errands, miscellaneous trips to Taco Bell and new pizza joints, social worker visits, time wasted scrolling through iTunes and surfing on IMDB… a rough estimate brings my writing time down to 1,1749 hours for the year 2015.

Compared to the 7,509 hours I’m awake, 1,749 hours seems kind of small. But it is what it is and as my daughter grows older, that number is going to go down even further.

So the question is, do I spend that thousand-plus hours out-reading my previous book totals, or do I spend that time working to achieve my sub-goal of becoming a bestselling author so I can quit my day job and earn an additional 2,640 hours to my schedule, traveling the country with my family, reading (and writing) all I want on a sunny beach?


So yeah, I’ll keep reading in order to keep improving my writing skills, but it is not going to be as big of a priority as it has been. For me, it’s a bigger accomplishment to write two books and read 15 than read 40 books and write nothing in a year.


About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

71 Responses to On Writing: Read Less

  1. erikakind says:

    Very cool summary 🙂

  2. jvisi1001 says:

    LOL! I think you and I would be good friends if we ever got to meet. From this post, it appears that you and I think a lot alike. I completely agree with what you’re saying. Now, I’m coming into the game late, at the age of 39, just writing my first novel. And no, I’ve never been published (yet). But between about 65 hours of work per week, wife and children, blogging and reading, I find myself either falling asleep while trying to write my breakout novel, or just too tired to write at all. And though I know it’s important for the PLATFORM, I find that blogging often gets in my way of writing. Anyway, God bless you sir! And the best of luck to you and your writing career. Maybe we can both retire from our jobs on the same day!

  3. Well”jvisi” you hit it on the head. Maybe not all writers cut back on their fun reading but I had to. Now reading is still important to me but I direct it toward the research I need for my current writing project. Books, articles, blogs and whatever to help generate ideas and accuracy in my fiction.

  4. Jay Dee says:

    I know what you’re going through. I’m writing my first book, and I have such little time to do it, I hardly do any writing in a week. I don’t spend much time reading, only on the train to and from work, and during my lunch break. I feel like I need to read more, though.

  5. swamiyesudas says:

    Reblogged this on lovehappinessandpeace and commented:
    As Andrew says, Reading is a Necessity And a Pleasure. But he has made a Very Good case for Reading Less, with Facts and Figures! 🙂
    In my case, I should say that I stopped reading quite a few Years ago! For exactly the Same Reasons!

  6. Helen Espinosa says:

    I just did a reading goal on Goodreads that this post makes me seriously question. Haha. Thanks for the insight. 😉

  7. Blackhorn33 says:

    What kind of material do you want, or possibly see yourself writing. I am finally getting a bit closer to caught up, and I have got the itch to read a bit more at times and a good bit more at others.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. The S.A. says:

    I love how you calculated the hours. Definitely a wake up call for me. Happy new year.

  9. Sandymae says:

    This is a very timely article. Last year I started a document listing all the books that I could remember reading over the last couple of years and then keeping track of what I read on a weekly basis. I generally have three books on the go at the same time. One will be a religious, self-help or motivational book, one will be a light, fluffy type of book, probably family fiction or romance which I generally read before bed or carry with me in my purse for doctor’s offices, waiting in car, etc and the third will probably be an ebook which I downloaded because I really want to read a variety of authors, and it could be on any subject. My problem is that I want to read everything! I know I can’t because, as you indicated, there are only so many hours in our day and other things must take precedence. I am 25% into an ebook now, and last night I said to husband, I am not really enjoying this book. Do I stop reading it and just delete it? Will I be missing a good book that just has a slow start? I love finishing that which I have started, but……..it’s a dilemma!

  10. Zula Julia says:

    Wishing you the best of luck, hope 2015 is your best creative year to date 🙂

  11. suzanne says:

    I must be such an unmotivated writer. I keep telling myself – What’s the rush? and set a goal of reading 100 books in 2015. Different strokes for different folks!

  12. kalakalan2 says:

    We spend time for people or things we love. So allotting time for yourself, the people you love most and things you love to do is a matter of prioritization. There are times you spend more on others than on you..

  13. dellisphelps says:

    I’m in a writing group of ten women who are all avid readers. They’ll say, “Have you read this or that?” My usual answer is, “I don’t read.” But, of course, I do read. I just don’t usually read what everybody else is reading.

    At dinner last night with another couple, the topic turned to kinds of books we like to read. One liked historical fiction. One liked gory, crime drama. One reads only on the internet, mostly paranormal and OMG! Urban Gossip. When I said I like to read Eco-spirituality, the room fell silent.

    My host asked, “But would you qualify that reading as entertaining?” I said, “Yes. I’m generally enthralled.”

    Though some may say blogging is not really writing in the same way that finishing a book project may be, I disagree. This blog, for example, has increased my resolve and released me from peer pressure to “read more.” I dare say, indeed it has inspired me to WRITE: one hundred and seventy-six words. Exactly.

    Thanks, Andrew! & Happy New Year (of writing more).

  14. Wonder Woman says:

    The irony of being a writer is readers make good writers but writers need to suspend reading to make the time to write. Go figure!

  15. Sometimes I feel like that when my blog hits a dry spell. I spend more time enjoying anime/games rather than writing about it.

  16. RoboticRAven says:

    Since I started writing again a few years ago, I’ve found it almost impossible to finish reading an entire book. I’ve read maybe 20 in the last three or four years. I’m so focused on my story and am always think about it when I’m reading anything else. I think it’s okay to focus on your own writing. People who read a lot need new material!

  17. catholicintrying says:

    As I read this, I couldn’t help but think, maybe I should be writing my own post! Haha! Thanks for the fun read, though!

  18. Levon says:

    I had to leave the book club I joined for this very reason. Had to sacrifice something so I could write more.

  19. Jes2G says:

    Ha! You need to read less, but I need to read more lol. Thanks for following me, by the way!

  20. The Uhm says:

    I agree. I have been writing my book and have read several books over my winter college break. Reading throughout the next two semesters will take care of my goals for wanting to read, but I have to keep on typing the next two books also. My motto has turned into write, write, and write some more.

  21. roxhhh says:

    I so get this…I know I read to avoid writing…tsk…you caught me

  22. cremedelauren says:

    I’m with you here! And *gulp* I have a lot of books on hold at the library to pick up right now. Ruh roh…it’s time to kick myself into gear and make writing a daily habit.

  23. bookclover says:

    Read less, write more…well, yes, that makes perfect sense. And I confess your perspective is quite interesting (hours, days….)…but I was never good at maths and reading has always been a pleasure for me so time spent on reading is worth doing (and I hope you will change your mind;-)

  24. The Arbiter says:

    Stephen King said a writer should read four to six hours a day. It is in his book “On Writing.” I can’t read that much, but I do write 2,000 words a day in addition to my blogs. At the end of the day I do read. King explains why in his book and it makes sense.

    • I agree completely, but I’m the guy that, if given the choice, will only read and rarely ever write. All of my reading over the years likely would add up to more than 4-6 hours a day 🙂

  25. Sean Smith says:

    I keep a log of my reading as well! It’s nice to keep track, but I’m just starting in on the writing bit. Reading gives me the inspiration I need to keep going on the writing.

    Although I did hear crazy rumors of some people who can read a book a day and not short or easy books. That’s pretty intimidating if you ask me.

  26. Pingback: Why Fiction? | adoptingjames

  27. maureenc says:

    Hi Andrew! Thanks for visiting KenMaursCorner and becoming a follower. How did you ever stumble across me? Of course I had to repay the courtesy and visit your “adoptingjames”. I’ve got a heck of a lot of reading to catch up on!!! Loved your letter to your baby girl. Like many people I have played with the dream of writing book(s) but my addiction to stitching and reading and not simultaneously seems to prevent that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: