Blogs have finally taught me a skill I had failed to master until now. I couldn't do it in high school. I still couldn't do it in college.
I realized I had made a breakthrough when my dad recently asked me, "How do you keep up with all the blogs you follow?"
I'm the kind of guy who reads at the speed of writing: One word at a time. There's no way I could burn through several hundred posts every morning in a couple of hours.
But I do.
The skill required to pull off such a feat is something called "skimming."
Skimming is the art of letting your eyes pick out important words within large amounts of text to get a gist of the meaning or topic. This was, in theory, how I was supposed to read my college History textbooks. I was supposed to somehow glean the information I needed by burning through dozens of dull pages of drivel to find the important meaning buried within the poor writing.
I couldn't do it.
I read, word by word, through a few paragraphs before my brain crashed. I would wake up a couple hours later, having learned nothing. I had no idea how to find the "important" words within the chapters. Shouldn't every word be important? Clearly not. But in college I was still stuck with the idea that published books selected by my educator should contain a significant amount of important information. I blame it on my Sonlight background. Every book my mom handed me had meaning and was a joy.
Blogging finally broke me of thinking that written words must contain deep meaning for me. Not because your posts are lame and meaningless. Not at all. But I quickly discovered that I personally was not interested in certain topics. On the other hand, I found myself reading any post that had to do with a few particular subjects. The more I read blogs, the better I become at recognizing the key words and phrases that alert me to a topic of interest or importance to me.
In reading the headline and scanning a post for a few key words, I can now decide if I should read all of it, skim sections of it, or move on to the next post. It is incredibly freeing. I can cover so much more ground because of it.
Sadly, because I was raised on Sonlight's incredible literature, I grew up believing that every block of text contained a goldmine of value. This hindered me in college (and a bit in high school) when I began to encounter flat and pointless texts.
I'm thankful for the Sonlight Difference. The pain I experienced from reading dry textbooks in college says far more about the nature of those texts than it does about Sonlight.
Still, it is nice to have finally mastered a skill I'd heard about all these years.
Do you find it hard to skim great literature? How did you learn to skim?
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester