I don’t consider myself a fast reader by any means. I am slow, methodical, and like to savor every word. This can become problematic considering the general wisdom that the more an author reads, the better a writer they become; or as Stephen King puts it: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”. This is compounded especially when you have a busy schedule. I often find myself in a situation where I only have enough time for 1 activity left in the day and I have to ask myself: “Should I read, or should I write?” And that’s not a situation that I want to be in, so I did some digging on speed reading techniques.
- Eliminate subvocalization. This is where you say the words aloud inside your head as you read. Your eyes can read faster than your brain can pronounce words. This will take practice, but we conscious of it and force yourself to quit this bad habit.
- Read multiple words at a time. As we first learned to read as kids, we read one letter at a time until we could read an entire word at a time. To continue this trend, we must learn to read multiple words at a time. This could be solved by what your vision is limiting you to see. Try holding the book further away from you so that your eyes can see more than a single word at a time.
- Avoid rereading. We’ve all done it, where we’ve had to go back and read the passage again. Regardless of the reason, you can try to minimize this bad habit by finding a place to read with very little distractions, and/or visually guiding your eye with either your finger or a pen.
The end-goal is to of course, increase your reading speed, but maintain your reading comprehension. For those that care, the average reader reads at 200-230 wpm and maintains a solid level of comprehension. I just took this free speed reading test and got 207 wpm and a comprehension of 91%. Apparently, the world speed reading champion, Anne Jones, can read 4,700 wpm with a comprehension of 67%. That’s insane! My goal is to try the techniques outlined above and move up to the next level at 300-400 wpm.
What did you score on the test?