How To Vary Your Reading List (& Why It’s Important)

The skies are crisp and white today, speckled by graphite patches. Rain bubbles by the horizon. I expect it to arrive later that day, or dissolve into a drier spell, as far as that’s possible in Southern England. Occasionally, a few sun rays fall through the clouds, streaking the ground with a honeyed gold. Through a gap in my window, an invigorating, yet soothing breeze enters my room and uplifts a few pages of the book I’m reading diligently at my desk.

This interaction between wind and paper reminds me of how there’s a timelessness to reading. Civilisations come and go; zeitgeists and cultures change to become something unrecognisable. But a distinct current carries our love for telling and reading stories through the decades. And all writing is, fundamentally, a story, either told explicitly through a work of fiction, or implied in arguments in an academic journal. Even the advertising on the mail truck which falters outside my house and attempts a clumsy turnaround connotes a certain immediacy in its colours and logo: it is attentive to the efficiency of communication our world demands.

Few people can experience life in its full emotional, practical and intellectual dimension without a strong reading habit. Through reading, we can acquire specialised and applicable knowledge on topics of interest to us, whether history or personal development or mathematics. Words capture certain truths about the world, building our wisdom and emotional intelligence. We develop a more nuanced and diverse outlook on the human experience with all its complexities. And regardless of the extent to which film and other forms of entertainment grow in popularity, both for better and for worse, regardless of how digitised our lives become, I believe reading will retain a central place in our culture because language – musical, with infinite dimensions of expression – can’t be supplanted or erased.

As well as making reading an intrinsic part of our daily schedule, we should expand the type of material we read. Sure, you might have a specific genre or subject matter which aligns with your life and interests more than others. This may be a general preference, like reading fiction as opposed to nonfiction, or writing relevant to your pursuits, such as reading history books as a history student, business self-help as a business owner, etc.

Why You Should Branch Out Your Reading List, And How To Go About Doing It

But what are some of the benefits of branching out what you read?

  1. An expanded world view. Put simply, you’ll know more about the world, strengthening your arguments and perspectives on topical debates. By understanding how the world works, we can give rise to more intelligent conversation, which in turn engenders tangible change both in our local communities and on a bigger scale. Sure, we can’t become experts in absolutely everything from history and philosophy to maths and environmental developments, but expanding our general knowledge in a variety of areas allows us to engage fully with contemporary discourse.
  2. Multidimensional thinking. You can apply ideas from a variety of sources to the problems you face, whether in education, the workplace, or day-to-day life. For example, plucking ideas from philosophy can help you self-evaluate and tackle hurdles like procrastination and comparison. Reading fiction streamlines your writing skills, regardless of what the purpose of your own writing may be.
  3. Enhanced creativity. Reading something new is often a foolproof way to channel creativity and develop ideas when hindered by problems such as writer’s block. You can carry ideas between disciplines and combine them in unexpected ways, exploring issues from a novel perspective. In short, you’ll establish an ‘inner library’ from which to draw information and insights when the need arises.
  4. Curiosity! Knowing for the sake of knowing is a worthwhile endeavour. We should nurture our curiosity inside and outside formal education, making learning a lifelong goal. The best way to do this is through reading, and the more you diversity your reading list, the further you will acquaint yourself with an array of fascinating topics.
  5. Intellectual development. New material is likely to be challenging and out of your comfort zone, making you think in different ways. Broader intellectual development will arise out of this, equipping you with the mental skills that can be applied across multiple areas of life.

Even with a single purpose in life, surrounded by micro-objectives, reading widely makes us far more knowledgeable and involved in the world as individuals, while strengthening us in what we do because knowledge has a fluid quality. Not constrained to a particular subject or circumstances, but capable of being decontextualised and applied to anything from a mundane problem to one of existential proportions. View Full Post

5 Simple Habits That Will Improve Your Writing

I wholeheartedly believe that everyone, not just published or aspiring authors, can benefit from taking the time to work on their writing skills.

There are countless examples of when good written communication can work in your favour. Think networking, assembling a resume, starting a blog. Think writing better essays and improving your grades. The world is both fast-paced and hungry for information, which means an ability to deliver a persuasive, crisp message gives you an advantage in the pursuit of your goals.

Your target audience is presented with nothing other than the result of your labour. For example, let’s say you’re writing a paper for school. Coming up with an original thesis, regardless of its importance, is just step one of many. Your brilliant ideas will be ‘lost in translation’ unless you develop the ability to materialise them through words with a sense of structure and coherence. Likewise, a groundbreaking business may struggle to lure in customers in the absence of verbal persuasion.

5 habits to improve your writing

The older I get, the more fascinated I become with the written word. Language can be revolutionary. And while not every written piece strives to be a world-changer, we strive to impact something whenever we write – your own professional/academic development, the readers of your blog – or spread a message you think needs to be heard. People whose income depends on the quality of their writing must be more rigorous than others, of course, but for the reasons described above, we can all capitalise on better written communication skills.

Improving your writing does not have to be an arduous, time-consuming battle and will feel easier once you accept that significant changes will not happen overnight. A combination of habit and patience is required. The advice of ‘read and write as much as possible to master the craft yourself’ is hard to argue with because you can’t improve without knowing what good writing looks like in practice. Read quality works within your niche and analyse what sets them apart. Challenge yourself in terms of daily word count and content. However, these core practices can be substantiated with other habits that are easy to implement into your daily routine as a means of boosting your competence in the written word. View Full Post

How To Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination As You Write

When questioning whether writing is an art or a science, I can’t steer myself away from a conclusion stating ‘both’ in the boldest of typefaces. It is a craft multiple purposes, from educating and articulating scientific theories, to serving as a creative outlet. A similar multitude of skills and mindsets are involved. On one hand, you have adherence to formal rules of grammar and sentence structure, to certain tricks which distinguish compelling writing from bad, and on the other – an inner flame urging you to serve a grander purpose, whether personal, political or ‘art for art’s sake’.

Writing, regardless of the purpose with which you do it, demands an interaction between motivation and discipline. Dynamism and an engaging tone are difficult to achieve without a hint of adrenaline in your fingertips urging you to shift words from mind to page. When, however, a dent looms in your motivation and distractions saturate your immediate environment, discipline steps in and carries you to the end of your final sentence. Striking a balance between the two is the key to perfecting the efficiency of your writing process.

How to write productively

We’re all familiar with that worst case scenario: you psyche yourself up to start a particularly tricky article, create a new document, write the title. Suddenly, an email illuminates your phone screen. Unwilling to keep the sender waiting, you respond. In the meantime, three more emails invade your inbox and to avoid unintended favouritism, you pen three more responses. You may spend half an hour forcing out two hundred words of the article in between checking notifications and scheduling plans for the evening. Before you know it, a growling stomach lures you into the kitchen. You make a snack. You take the dog for a walk, run a marathon, learn a new language. You do everything except for writing the article, and when you return to the document, discarded mid-sentence, you forget what on earth you were talking about.

From speaking with people, including those who characterise themselves as writers by profession, I’ve noticed that writing is an activity before which the chances of procrastination are ubiquitous. There are many reasons for this: writing, first and foremost, is difficultinvolving both sides of the brain. Writers are vulnerable to perfectionism and dread the prospect of producing a puddle of incoherence as opposed to something memorable, enticing, rational. For this reason, you may find yourself taking longer than necessary to produce a written piece. Moreover, losing focus often creates a self-perpetuating spiral of doubt (the more you procrastinate – to either start the piece or reach the dreaded conclusion – the more you question your abilities) and writing lacking flow and/or a consistent tone. View Full Post

Bullet Journaling For Productivity – 5 Spread Ideas

Most of us have an ambiguous relationship with bullet journals. We love them because they enhance our productivity, give us a place to track our thoughts and tie our lives together in a visual formal. Yet, we envy the presentability and aesthetic appeal standards set by Instagram and Pinterest. For this reason, I would like to preface this post with a reminder: your bullet journal absolutely does not have to look pretty in order for it to be effective. In fact, 90% of my bullet journal pages (in particular, weekly spreads) are covered in unsightly scribbles and take under five minutes to configure in the first place.

The are a couple of reasons for why the bullet journal images you see on my blog linger above the threshold of presentability. Firstly, in light of a pre-planned blog post, I want to create a better experience for my readers. Secondly, hand lettering, doodling and implementing colour schemes on a couple of my bullet journal pages acts, for me, as a creative outlet, which is something I believe most of us need. My study notes or anything destined to remain hidden from public consumption paint a different impression. And as an inherently ‘messy’ person with handwriting that can only be described as abysmal, I need reassurance that I do, in fact, posses a hint of artistic competence (lol). In short: do not be put off from starting a bullet journal because an obligation to make it look objectively aesthetic does not exist, unless this is something you wish to do for your own enjoyment.

Now, this post is a collab with Mia, who runs a lifestyle blog called Beautiful, Inspiring, Creative…Life. Not only is she is a super talented blogger with a very unique style and content (featuring many things including productivity, fashion and life advice), but also the loveliest person with an attitude all of us can admire. We bonded over our mutual love for many things, bullet journaling included, and decided to share our favourite spreads used to further productivity and personal development. You can check out her post HERE.

And now, let us have a look at some of my ideas, which you may wish to try out if you haven’t already.

1. ‘Reading, listening, watching’

Five bullet journal spreads to use for productivity - inaccordance

(Gotta love my attempts to recreate my favourite ‘Brusher’ font, lol)

I know that many people often set themselves a goal of reading more books, whether fiction or non-fiction, listening to particular podcasts or watching interesting films. However, achieving this is tricky unless you are keeping yourself accountable. This is the main reason for why you may want to dedicate a page of your bullet journal to some sort of reading list, whether in the form of a space to jot down books you come across and may wish to read in the future, or a more structured ‘to read’ page with tick boxes next to each item. View Full Post