Thursday, December 14, 2017

Editor's Notes #40: Reading Goals and Continuing Education


As we come to the end of the calendar year, I notice many people posting about meeting their reading goals for the year. I've got to admit, I both love and hate the idea of having reading goals.

On one hand, I like the idea of taking the time to plan what I hope to accomplish, because it forces me to think about what, exactly, I want/need to focus on. It holds me accountable each time I look at the list and see what percentage of my goal I've conquered. Each checkmark satisfies my sense of "ducks in a row."

On the other hand, the very things I like about setting reading goals are the same ones that make me feel trapped. If I find myself falling short at a certain point in the year, I get stressed out. As things continue to progress, if I get behind more and more, I feel like I have to force myself to catch up, even if I'm dealing with quantity over quality so I can check off those boxes. One more duck in a row. If I find out that there is no row, the ducks are everywhere, and they're actually not ducks at all, but rather rabid squirrels—squirrels that are completely incapable of ever, ever making a row—well, then we have a problem.

Something I did this year with a semi-half-thought-out-maybe-almost-not-planned effort was to list the books I'm currently reading on my Goodreads home page. I can list what I'm reading, see my progress (by percentage or page number, so there's gimmicky fun involved that I can even do from my phone), and when I'm finished with each book, I am right there on one of the two places I leave book reviews. How handy, you might say! It is.

I can have the progress in plain sight without the pressure of a goal and deadline. I start when I want, finish when I can, and slowly see accomplishments piling up.

Another not-goal-but-more-of-a-guideline is that I promised myself I'd do a couple specific things:

  • I would have one non-fiction book happening at all times. This book would fall into the category of writing or editing and would be something that helped me in my work.
  • I would read more classics. We used to read a lot of them aloud to our kids when they were younger, and I've gotten out of the habit of reading the more challenging stuff. My current classic is Crime and Punishment and though I'm enjoying it, I find I don't want to pick it up unless I have a solid block of time to get in the groove of it. This is making a really long book feel even longer.
  • I would read books written by the author bloggers I follow. I follow, visit, and comment on a good number of blogs. Many of those bloggers are authors, both traditionally and independently published. Something I notice is a lot of cheering but not always a lot of follow-through. The equivalent for me would be having everyone read and comment supportively on my blog but never recommend me when someone's looking for a copyeditor. I decided to randomly choose books these authors had written or were talking about, and have found a nice selection of good work so far.
After the new year gets underway, I'll be sharing my favorite books on writing and editing, based on my first sort-of-not-really-a-goal. I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to share a book that has had an impact on you, and I'll be featuring those in the second part of that post series. Drop me an email and tell me the name of the book and why it's memorable to you.

Until then, happy reading!

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10 comments:

  1. I've gotten lazy when it comes to using Goodreads to keep track of what I'm reading. I do try to read some of my blogger buddies' books each year though.

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    1. I had gotten away from it for a couple years, but got back on the wagon this year. In fact, just yesterday I saw my "Books in Review" from Goodreads and the first book listed was one I'd started (and finished) two years ago, but I'd never updated the date on it, so GR assumed it was part of my 2017 reading. So much for accuracy. Keeping track there does serve to remind me what I'm supposed to be reading.

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  2. I must admit, I've never set any reading goals for myself, any more than I make New Year's resolutions. I read whatever I want to, whenever I want to. Just the ornery type, I guess.

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    1. No one can ever accuse you of being boxed in, though!

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  3. I don't have reading goals. I do have writing goals and rarely meet them. I do however enjoy life. haha.

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    1. You probably have your priorities straight . . . much more than most people I know, anyway. I like having goals but am slowly learning to not beat myself up about them.

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  4. I've been dealing with the same thing, but I never got as far as developing a "semi-half-thought-out-maybe-almost-not-planned effort" to deal with it. I like your approach, and I really like your inclusion of non-fiction at all times.

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    1. Thanks, Lee! I came to the conclusion that reading books about writing will ultimately make me a better editor. I read editing books as well, but I've gained quite a bit from the writing books. Non-fiction isn't something I gravitate toward unless it's a highly recommended auto/biography, so setting that bar for myself has been a definite plus.

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  5. I love my Reading Goals and Challenges. It's because of them that I have been able to read diverse genres, different authors, classics to contemporary, fiction to non-fiction, memoirs and biographies to banned and challenged books, books in various formats to books outside your comfort zone... I love doing PopSugar Reading Challenge and I track my reading on Goodreads.

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    1. I think my reading over the past couple years became almost too narrow in its scope (i.e. only genres I knew I'd probably like, and easy/quick reads) because I had so little pleasure reading time. I'm aiming for more balance now, and allowing myself to take a break from edits at a certain point at night, rather than working until bedtime as I've needed to do in the past. I'm certainly enjoying it a lot more!

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