I have separated learning to read and learning Chinese characters into two different posts purposefully. This should make sense by the time I'm done.
Reading is an ability to perceive transmitted ideas in a written format that other people have written. Through these ideas, people who can read can understand and build off of the writings and thoughts of people for generations to come. Reading is not an innate ability inside human beings from birth, but it can be learned and improved upon.
Learning to read in a Asian language that utilizes characters presents a unique challenge in the fact that we as Westerners are also required to memorize the meanings of the symbols in those languages. In English and other Western languages, once you learn the basic building blocks that correspond to sounds you can start to sound things out and run with it. In Chinese and Japanese specifically, this is NOT how things work. Each individual 'building block' corresponds to its own specific meaning.
It's similar to the difference between playing Pictionary and Charades. The goal of both games is to get the message across but the medium is absolutely different.
Shockingly, the secret to learning to read is by reading. Reading is daunting at first, as it seems there are infinitely more words you do not recognize on the page than what you do recognize. Luckily, much of the guess work on what to read or how to combat this daunting theory is illustrated in the i + 1 theory as explained by Professor Stephen Krashen.
I'm sure if you think back to how you learned to read it amounted to about the same thing. Barring learning difficulties and private tutoring (which we have all had in some fashion), learning to read basically required us to read simple books until they were too simple and then move onto more difficult ones.
Studying Chinese has a unique difficulty in the vast amount of rote memorization that is necessary. I
In fact, the memorization never really ends; it just becomes quicker and more natural over time as one's brain sees the components of the character in bigger chunks For this gargantuan task (part of which has been covered in a previous post), I recommend the utilization of Anki or any other spaced repetition software. Following the previously linked guide will greatly improve your comprehensive and memorization.
Now the hard part comes: doing it. Reading motivational material online building self esteem and making you feel good about yourself will not accomplish the goals you set up for yourself. It is most important that you take a step out of your proverbial house (aka, your comfort zone) and set off on the long journey to proficiency, fluency, and ultimately mastery.
Kill it. You have a rage to master inside of you. And if this language thing is your gig (and it IS a totally sweet gig), take that first step and start to really do it. Don't wait until later. Don't put it off until tomorrow while you surf around looking for things to fill your time while you wait to go to 7-11 and buy a slurpee with your best buds. Do it now.