This is how I do my longreads

Much of where we are feeling we’re going wrong lies in the speed at which we are moving, talking, toggling and…reading. I’ve shared one of my favourite takes on this, by David Malouf writing in the Quarterly Essay not so long ago.

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Malouf suggests:

We are moving at a speed that’s not conducive to discerning thought.

We can’t keep up. We’re frazzled. We’re missing out on good, deep, mindful learnings. I agree and love Malouf’s way of presenting this idea.

Do you, like me, find it hard to longread? Which is to say, do you find it hard to read long, mindful articles that have been crafted carefully and go in deep, thus requiring more words and focus than a clickbait-y grab? Yes?

I’ve realised the importance of ensuring I do in fact longread on a regular basis. In part to train my brain into more discerning thinking.

This is how I do my longreads:

* I subscribe to and follow various channels specialising in considered reads on social media and via newsletter.

* I save them. I do this in a rudimentary way. I email them to myself (from Facebook or Twitter or email newsletter) and keep in a mail folder.

* I set aside time once a week to read. For a good hour or two. I make a big pot of tea. It’s a lovely ritual. 

* I mostly do it on a Thursday afternoon. I take Thursdays off for considered thinking and reading

* Or I set aside some time late Sunday afternoon, during that time between things. That lull period. 

* I turn off my phone. And disconnect internet on my laptop. So I’m not tempted to toggle. 

It’s funny. This is one of the most startling things that happens when you do commit to longreading. You notice yourself fleeing from the focus and stillness entailed. Sitting down to read a 3000-word article is uncomfortable and lacks in immediate gratification. Which makes me aware of how much I rely on such gratification, and how unwilling I am to sit in discomfort these days. 

When I become aware of this, it steers me back to the article and the stillness and the focus. In many ways, my longreading is a practice. It’s a technique for me to come in slower and closer.

And I have to say, all my best work, thoughts, contributions, insights have only ever happened when I’ve sat down for extended periods and not run from the discomfort. I’ve stayed, and stayed. And then the creativity flows.

I’ve written about this phenomenon among my favourite creatives before…anything any good takes a long time.

How do you do your longreading and what do you read? On Thursday I’ll share my list and add your suggestions in.

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