Is There Such a Thing as Reader’s Block?

I’m a writer who’s having trouble reading, and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Read. A lot. It’s the advice every writer gets no matter their genre. I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, so it never felt like much of an admonition. It has begun to recently, though. Ever since I became serious about writing a few years ago, reading for pleasure has felt like heavy lifting, and I’m not entirely sure why. Something about constantly being in writing mode seems to have flipped a switch in my brain that makes sitting still and reading for long stretches difficult unless the work is directly related to a writing project I’m working on. Becoming a writer has unexpectedly stopped me from being much of a reader.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit this. I feel like I’m breaking a taboo that might get me kicked out of the club. It’s a concentration problem. That much I can tell. It doesn’t matter the length of the material. I can’t get into even relatively short blog posts and articles much of the time. There’s so much good work here on Medium that I’ve bookmarked and haven’t gotten around to reading. Every now and then, I’ll have a good run, and read a few pieces here and there. Then I’m back to being able to only skim quickly through written material. I can understand and retain the information, but the joy of reading is missing. I keep trying to make time to sit down and read. I’ve never in my life had to schedule for that before. I’ve turned reading into a chore to be completed. It’s perplexing. And distressing.

Modern communication patterns have disrupted my attention span. I know that’s a factor as well. Even when there is an open acre of time, I find it quite difficult to sit still the way I used to even a few years ago. In my teen years, I would often read whole books in almost a single sitting. I no longer have that same level of focus. My mind wanders. It’s difficult for me to delve deeper. I have trouble paying attention. Consuming as much information as I do in tweet-sized bits can’t be helping things.

Is there such a thing as reader’s block?

I’ve honestly been pondering the question. Books have been an important part of my life all of my life. Being a reader has always been at the core of my identity. I honestly feel a bit unmoored. I’m not sure what the problem or the solution is. I think worrying about it too much may make things worse, so I’m not going to dwell on it too much and hope a flurry of writing that catches and holds my attention crosses my path soon.

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*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: | IG: kitanyaharrison

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