What I Learned From *Not* Reading in 2020

My reading goals for 2020 was 25 books. I could only bring myself to read half. It’s not a major disappointment compared to everything else going on in the world, but as a typically avid bookworm, it felt like an unexpected blow when December 31st rolled around. (I did read more fanfiction and informational websites, so who knows in actuality how many books I read if they could be translated into printed novels *hopeful wishing?*)

Watching the months go by without reading hardly anything felt both like a passive and active choice – I was too distracted with doom-scrolling through the news and staying hooked to social media but I wasn’t completely ignorant that I was just letting the goal slip away. My habits for essentially ignoring books was catching up to me in little ways every day.

As I reset my intention for 2021 to 25 books again, I wanted to take a second to look back on why I didn’t succeed last year and see what I can do differently to hit my goal this year.

Prioritize My Time

I can’t read books if I don’t make time for them. A personal goal for 2021 is to wake up earlier for yoga or a walk around my neighborhood. While my body cools down and it’s best to wait 30 minutes before eating, I’m going to read instead. I also know that sometimes at night I won’t be checking out a flick from Netflix, and can read in bed as a way to self-soothe from the day and go to bed. Prioritizing my time, and opening up small opportunities, will let me tackle more books page-by-page.

Set Procrastination Boundaries

Once I log onto social media to kill time, it almost feels like there’s no going back. What starts out as posting or just checking-in turns into spending way too much time going from account to account on too many trends on Twitter. Social media is way too much of an ‘addiction’ to procrastination.

Setting a schedule of posting to social media on certain days is actually enough to curve my fix of checking in with the rest of the world – mostly trends or posts I won’t likely remember once my head hits the pillow for sleep. And when I feel going on Instagram in a knee-jerk response to boredom, I’m going to train myself to grab a book instead.

Focus on my actual TBR

I always get a little rush of adrenaline when I buy more books or add titles to my TBR. But just having a general list on GoodReads doesn’t do me a lot of favors because I feel like I’ll just finish the books sometime *shrug*, I’ll eventually get around to them *shrug*, etc. This year, I’ve added specific titles to my list that takes up at least several spaces out of the 25 books I want to read. And, if I need ideas to check out books from the library, I can occasionally look to goodreads for real inspiration.

Make Books Visible

Like most bookworms, I have books everywhere – especially on my shelves which make good decoration for social media and are nicely organized so the house doesn’t look like a huge mess. But the ones I wanted to read every week or month blend into other notebooks and journals I have on my desk. If I see my goal more clearly, I can see exactly what I want to achieve. As I decorated my office for Christmas, and after I started putting stuff away, I kept a space open for the books I checked out of the library or pulled out of my collection. I’m hoping by seeing them in a better visible area that I’m spending my time most of the day, I’ll be reminded to reach for it more.

Change the Way I Think About Reading

One of the ways that I fell behind last year was when I realized I was flailing behind in my goal, I felt like a failure or that I was never going to get started. So, I obviously want to hit my goal for 2021. But just seeing the tally count on GoodReads or my bullet journal hit 25 / 25 shouldn’t be the only motivation. I need to change or return to the way that I used to think about reading – which is to learn, escape, and have fun.

What are your goals this year? What have you learned from your reading habits last year?

5 Lessons to Learn from Taylor Swift’s Folklore Sessions

Every time I listen to one of Taylor Swift’s albums, I feel like I’m listening to her music in a new way. Just when I think that I’ve found my favorite song of all-time, another one will pop up on my playlist that makes me feel and think something different about her, myself, or the world than I never thought of before.

Taylor is known for her ability to create vivid images, conjure a memorable hook, and to tell a relatable story. While all of her albums have been impressive so far, her latest release “folklore” is the exact kind of escape so many have been looking for throughout the dumpster fire that has been 2020.

To share her new music, she recently hosted a live recording session “folklore: the long pond studio session” on Disney+ that included commentary for all 17 tracks. Though I always believe it’s helpful to seek advice from fellow writers and authors about writing or blogging, it’s also eye-opening to approach stories from another perspective or other mediums like music and songwriters. Here are some writing lessons to use from Taylor Swift’s latest project on Disney+

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Film Soundtrack Ideas to Listen to While Writing Horror & Mystery

Music is my go-to way to unwind, especially while I’m blogging and writing. When I’m typing along with nothing else playing the background, I become self-conscious of channeling my ideas into something tangible on my computer. (Journaling is oddly different for me – I prefer to do it without music to let my thoughts and feelings roam freely).

As a big part of my writing process, I love to listen to all kinds of music – especially movie soundtracks and scores (this basically covers three of my favorite pastimes in one music + film + writing). I thought it’d be fun to share recommendations for different book genres, character ideas, etc.

Even though October is over, autumn is just kicking in and plenty of us are still in a spooky mood. Here are some of my favorite scores to inspire you while writing/reading a horror or mystery novel. (I primarily listen to these scores and upcoming posts on Spotify unless otherwise mentioned.)

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(Book Review) Atomic Habits by James Clear

It’s hard to believe the road that 2020 has taken. If I wind back the clock to the end of 2019, and trying to welcome the new year with open arms, it feels like a lot of my goals went up in smoke when the Coronavirus hit.

Even though I primarily work from home already and have been used to living where I work all the time, I hoped to use the lockdown as an opportunity to check and change my daily habits. I completed a thirty day cycle of yoga, walked around my neighborhood almost every day (while wearing a mask / social distancing), and gradually replaced coffee with tea and more water. Over the summer, as COVID ran rampant, Black Lives Matter movement rose across the country, and political antics became overwhelming, my anxiety and depression acted up to the point of dropping my habits and not being able to get back on track since. I dropped off of social media – deleting my Instagram and other accounts – and just wanted to disappear.

Even with the election looming, and the outcome for the year feeling bleak, I still want to extinguish the dumpster fire that is 2020 and try to start over. Atomic Habits by James Clear (non-commission link) recently popped up on my ebook library at my library and offered hope to change direction.

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