It's Clare Connelly here, and I have a confession to make. I've become a terrible reader. Terrible. I wasn't always like this! Go back a few years and you'd rarely find me without a book (or kindle) in hand. I read while I cooked, while I cleaned, while I nursed my babies, at the park, and on the front seat of the car for whenever I had to park and wait for someone or something. I was always, always reading. I used to read a Mills & Boon in a night. Not every night, but often enough to count Harlequin romances as much a part of my diet as air, water and chocolate.
I completely agree with all the quotes you've ever heard about reading and writing going hand in hand. When people ask me how you become a writer, I say, firstly, you read. A lot. And it's true - I think the best skills you ever learn as a writer are developed by a process of osmosis. You read, and the words begin to form tracks in your brain, ways to pull a train of narrative to fruition, to drive a story from idea to manuscript. You learn how to structure dialogue, pace drama, lay clues for a mystery, all because you've read so many books that the knowledge of how to write begins to form a part of your DNA.
I used to be an excellent reader, but friends, I've slipped.
So, in an effort to tackle that, this year I've started The Reading Hour. At 2pm every day (with the rare exception of when a deadline is so tight it's about to eat me all up) I down tools and take my position on the sofa. Cup of tea, book, writing mind switched off and reading mind in gear. And I lose myself in the pages of someone else's words and world, and time ceases to have meaning (Pro tip: set an alarm. Mine goes off at 245pm every day to remind me to collect the kids from school...)
I'm guessing if you're here, you're an avid reader, but I'm curious. When do you read? And where? Do you have the same time every day or do you go with the reading flow?