Thursday, March 5, 2020

When a Writer Needs to Rediscover Her Reading Mojo

by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

While some writers have been writing stories since they could hold a pencil, that wasn’t my experience. I was a reader first. For thirty-five years I fell into books, crawled into stories, and lived there as often as possible. 

Then one day the stories in my head tumbled onto a page. I started writing, and for a while the writing seriously messed up my reading life! Perhaps you can relate?

I found myself analyzing everything I read. It was almost impossible to lose myself in a story the way I used to. I wondered if the author was a plotter or a pantser, how they did their research, or why they went in a certain direction with a story. I couldn’t stop myself from studying the story to see where the plot points were and how the elements of the story matched the expectations set forth for that particular genre. 

It was exhausting. 

Reading had been my escape, books my best friends. But now they felt like work. The magic of them had faded because I had peeked behind the curtain. I knew how much work went into each page and because I knew so much more about what good writing sounded like, I found myself editing the words and rewriting sentences in my mind as I read. 

As much I loved writing my own stories, I wondered if I would ever love reading again the way I used to. 

If you’ve experienced something similar, let me give you some hope. 

Over the last few years, I’ve rediscovered my love of reading. I still don’t have as much time to read as I would like, but I’ve found a few tricks that help me dive back into the stories that help feed my imagination and my soul. 

1. Choose wisely. If you’re struggling to enjoy your reading or if you’ve fallen out of the habit of reading, choose a book in a genre you know and love, by an author you know and love. And don’t be afraid to reread a favorite. This is not the time to choose a 700-page doorstopper. Go for something short and something fun. You can tackle the epics and classics after you’ve reestablished your reading mojo.

2. Give each book a chance, and don’t be surprised if it takes a little longer for a story to suck you in than it used to. Before I started writing, it wasn’t unusual for a book to capture my imagination within the first couple of paragraphs. That’s rare these days. Sadly, it still takes me a while to get my internal editor to shut up, but I’ve found that if I’m willing to stick with a book, that pesky editor usually slinks off and allows me to enjoy the story in peace. 

3. Just because you start a book, that doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Life’s too short to read crummy books. If my internal editor won’t give up after a few chapters, I’m likely to set that book to the side. There are tons of well-written and binge-worthy books waiting for you to enjoy. Read them. 

4. Read widely. Read what you write, but don’t neglect other options. Read poetry, romance, thrillers, sci-fi, historical. Choose fiction and nonfiction. Seek out stories written by people of all races, by men and women, and by young and old authors alike. And don’t forget about children’s, middle grade, and YA stories. 

5. Read a different way. Try an audio book, and yes, that does count as reading. If you prefer long novels, choose a short story or novella collection. If you’re a fan of paper (and believe me, I understand), try digital. If you usually go digital, grab a hardcover. Sometimes a little jolt is what we need to get us out of a rut.

6. Be amazed and appreciative. Before I started writing, if I found a book that glued me to my chair and kept me turning pages long after bedtime, I usually thought, “Wow, that story was fabulous.” These days? I’m more like to say something like, “That author is amazing.” And then I try to share the love. I may post it on social media, tell my friends, or encourage others to read the story. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to an author and tell him or her how much you enjoyed their book. Everyone needs encouragement!

7. Don’t quit. Keep trying until you find a book that reminds you why books are so awesome. And then find another. You’ll be so glad you did and ultimately your writing will be better for it!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with reading as a writer. 
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Grace and peace,


Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy—but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations—while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Her Dive Team Investigations series kicked off in 2018 with Beneath the Surface and In Too Deep (A SIBA Okra pick and Selah Award Finalist). The 3rd book in the series, One Final Breath, releases in September 2019. She is also the author of Hidden Legacyand Covert Justice,which won the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel and the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after at and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.


  1. Thanks Ms. Lynn. You're right; when I became a "Light Writer", reading took a back seat. I still love to read, but it becomes more and more difficult with impending deadlines, promised reviews, etc. Still, we all need a little escapism through the well-penned words of one of our favorite authors. Am about halfway through a "Jack Reacher" novel that I picked up at the airport about a month ago. I read two hundred pages on the flight home; and it still sits on my desk waiting to be finished. It's my reward for getting some business and other writing completed. :-) God's blessings ma'am.

  2. Lynn, I share those same struggles, especially with the internal editor. Thanks for the tips.

  3. It is really tough, I agree. Thanks for the tips to get back into the swing of things.

  4. I wondered if I was the only writer who didn't love reading like I used to. Thank for the advice.

  5. Oh yes, I’m right here with you! I’ve been coming out of my “book avoidance phase” but I didn’t read for about 2 years after I full committed to the writing journey. I felt like a fraud. I’m enjoying audio books a lot right now! Great advice!

  6. Lynn - Thanks for my favorite post in, well, at least a year or so. Talk about a shoe fitting! I've been pushing WIPs around like too much food on my plate. Recently, I decided to start (yes, start) using my Fire tablet by taking it to bed so I could read in the dark. The FIRST book I ordered was your "Covert Justice" and enjoyed it immensely, even though I had my usual bouts with analyzing your style and word choices. It helped me return to story. It also helped me discover I don't HAVE to hold a real book to enjoy it because I learned to highlight a few things for future review. I gave up a real book (heavier), a reading lamp (not a biggie, but requires a long reach), and a highlighter. Thanks - for the post and a series I'm excited to read.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  7. Thanks so much, Lynn. You nailed it. I was a reader first as well. Then I became an English teacher (talk about an internal editor that won't shut off)! I discovered audible books a couple of years ago. If the book was well-written enough to stand up under every single word, I found myself loving reading again and even learning from authors I admire.

  8. Great tips! Now, where is my library card?😉