Lately, I find that words fail me.

The desire to write exists, but when I sit down and attempt to get to it…nothing happens. Blog posts, my personal works-in-progress, letters, e-mails, even something as simple as the weekly to-do list or an errand reminder – all seem too hard.

And it’s so easy to blame outside forces, isn’t it?  There’s too much to do. There’s not enough time to write. There’s nothing to write about. But those statements could – and perhaps should – be turned very personal. I’m busy. I’m too tired. I’m not inspired by anything right now. Eventually, in the moments when I’m honest with myself, I realize that the inability to write comes only from me.


I have always believed that if you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader, and that is so very true. In grading student essays and homework, those who struggle to write often struggle to read. I don’t necessarily mean that they can’t read (although it’s always true that many do), but rather that they don’t or won’t read, for whatever reason. If we don’t read, we don’t get to experience how other writers use words and language. We don’t get to learn what conventions work – or don’t. We don’t see writing in action and so cannot put it into action our selves, at least not very well. Think about it: if a child never hears people speak, how will she learn to speak herself? We need examples and models to teach us what we need to know.


And there’s where it hit me. The reason I don’t seem to be able to find and share my words is that I am not consuming anyone else’s. Oh, the desire is there. I love to read. But as I reflect on my life of late, I see that I have not made reading a priority. I have not given reading time in my hours and days. So much else is there to distract – the phone, the Internet, television shows, work, chores, activities, family commitments, and so much more.  I have allowed reading to fall far down on the priority list.

And it’s not good.


Reading is so important – for everyone. Reading helps us develop our own language skills, both written and verbal. Reading exposes us to the thoughts, dreams, ideals, and experiences of other people. Reading helps us understand and relate to the world around us and to the people in it. Reading is there to teach, to entertain, to inform, to persuade. Reading is necessary. For me, at least. But I truly believe it is necessary for all of us, for so many reasons.


So how did I allow it to become something frivolous, something extra? How did it become something I could not find time for instead of something that was part of my every day?

I don’t know the answer to that.

But I do know that it has to change. In order for me to find my own words to write and to share, in order for me to reconnect with the world that I have become distracted from, in order to find peace, I need to place reading at the top of my list every day, even if just for a short while. Because even a small amount of time spent on reading reaps benefits beyond measure.

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This week I am a guest host for Literacy Musing Mondays.

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books on my wishlist & what i’m reading now

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Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

18 thoughts on “Finding Time for Words

  1. Years ago I read that Ben Franklin got an education, basically, by reading great writers, copying the sections he loved, and reading as widely as possible.
    There’s nothing like time spent soaking in the beautiful words of a gifted writer . . .and also in the ultimate truth of God’s Word.

    1. I would believe that about Franklin in a minute, Michele. Absolutely. And he was very well read. One of my favorite Franklin tales is from his Autobiography where he talks of how he read that one could cure a fever by drinking plentifully and sweating. He remembered that he read it, tried it, and apparently it worked! So his story goes… 🙂

  2. How right you are, Lisa. My stacks are on stacks and I rarely have the opportunity to finish the books I want to read. Mostly I may get through the non-fiction ones–but the pleasure reading I miss so much and feel guilty if I take a full day and devour a long awaited goodie. But–it does my writing good when I do. And,as a former “recovering English teacher” LOL–I know what you mean about the poor writers being poor readers. So clear in the classroom.


  3. Reading is my favorite thing to do in the whole world but it happens when I am between books and I keep being inbetween books and then go weeks without reading any blogs because I haven’t written one. But it happens and I too believe inspiration comes just as much from what we take in as what we give out. I love it when it happens that I read something and sparks fly to make me want to write myself.

    1. The never-ending cycle of being somewhere in the middle of reading a whole bunch of things, right? I think it’s about finding a balance and finding a way to manage the time for doing both. I’m feeling like I can write again – I’m hoping to get a few things down this week in sort of a big push of inspiration. Or something. 😀

  4. Wish I had seen this on Monday! I recently wrote about how the upside to the sleep interruptions of menopause is the opportunity to read more. Combine that with the empty nest and this year more than ever I have found my way back to voracious reading. Finished book 116 for the year about 2 a.m.!

    1. Book 116??? May, I am completely in awe – and jealous! 😀 I find I am far too…scattered. Clearly, I need to find some sort of peace, an anchor of sorts. I’ve been missing your posts (and everyone else’s) lately and it really bugs me. Still seeking some sort of magic to make there be enough time for everything.

  5. Hi Lisa,

    I came across your blog through your guest post for Literacy Musing Mondays, and I am so glad that I stopped by here.

    I can completely relate to this post. I went through something similar over the past some years, yes YEARS. I had my son, and promptly slipped into a big reading slump that lasted over 2 years. It took me a while to get back, but now that I have rediscovered my love for books, it has once again become my daily source of joy (outside of my family) 🙂

    1. Shantala, I am SO glad you came by! (And I’m clicking right over to check out your non-reader post, too!) That’s a large part of what happened to me, too – once my Daughter came along, time just shifted in all different directions and reading time slipped away (often because I was just too tired). And while I’ve always read to and with my Daughter, it’s just not quite the same as grown-up reading, is it? The other big factor was that my job as a high school English teacher kept me from having time to read. Oh the irony, right? I spent so much time reading for class prep and reading their written work that pleasure reading just didn’t happen.
      Glad to meet you and I look forward to seeing you again!

  6. I stopped reading at some point, too. Weirdly, I stopped reading just when I had more free time in which read! I’ve been reading books this year, and am slowly adding back blog-reading and even reading music. I feel… smarter.

    1. I thought when I gained more time to read that I’d actually do it. Not so much. I go in spurts. And keeping up with blog reading? A huge task I fall behind on more often than not. I miss connecting regularly with bloggers on their blogs, though, so I’m working on how to make that fit better, too. Reading music? Do you play? Did I know that?

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