Steven Pressfield, in his excellent book, The War of Art, coined the phrase ‘resistance’ when referring to that particular obstacle we creatives feel when it comes time to create. I have certainly felt this resistance when it comes time to write, and I have found Steven’s advice to be helpful in this regard. But I’ve also encountered a ‘reading resistance’ too, and in conversation with others, I have discovered that it is not a phenomenon unique to myself.
I have found that I most frequently encounter this resistance when starting a new book, or a story by a new (to me) author, sometimes I encounter it when reading in a new genre, or a new series that already has several novels in it. It is that ‘unknown’ factor that gives me the most trouble, and I find myself very conscious of not having my precious reading time wasted by stories I just don’t love. So whenever I have an unknown factor I feel a push back from my reading brain, and this resistance, unless properly managed, can keep me from getting down to the excellent business of reading. Here are three tips that I’ve found useful in helping me combat this ‘reading resistance’:
#1. Prepare well:
This may sound overly cautious, or too formulaic for some, but when I know I’m starting something new, and I feel apprehension about it, I find it best to prepare. This means finding enough time to really devote myself to getting into the book; it means finding a space that is clear of clutter, or people, or distractions. Sometimes it even means making sure I’m in a good mental state to take on something unknown – for instance, that I’ve had enough sleep, I’m not irritable, or not stressed out from work. By preparing myself and my space well, I know I’ll be in the best headspace to really give the new book a fair shot.
#2. Dive in:
Just do it. The best way for me to get into reading a new novel when I’m just not feeling it, is to make myself do it. I commit to reading at least the first chapter, and I just make myself start. I’ve found this to be the hardest part – the actual doing. Usually though, if the book is good quality, by the time I’m done the first chapter, I’m already enthralled and that resistance melts away. If it’s a great book, it usually only takes that first page!
#3. Become friendly with DNF:
‘DNF’ is an acronym that stands for ‘Did Not Finish’. This has been the most difficult aspect of combating resistance for me. I feel somehow defeated when I don’t finish a novel. Still, if something is absolutely ponderous for me to get through, I have decided that life is too short, and I refuse to finish it. I give a book a good try – I have to finish at least 25% of the novel, before I write it off. But if I continue to feel that resistance past 25%, or if there is an obvious element to the story that I do not like, then I have become friendly with DNF, and it has been a great time and energy saver. There are too many wonderful books to trudge through mediocre ones! se4yuk,
Do you ever feel ‘reading resistance’? How do you fight this feeling? Tell me in the comments below!
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