Why Writers Must Be Readers
We've heard many aspiring authors say some variation of the following quote:
"I love writing but I'm not much of a reader."
This can quickly become an issue depending on your goals as an author. Writing is an outlet. Many of us feel the need to write because we have something to say and we feel people need to hear it. Reading, however, is an inlet. It's how we learn, experience new points of view and are entertained. For many it doesn't have that same cathartic effect as writing.
The amount you read does not matter if you only want to write for yourself. Keep your outlet, write for yourself and enjoy it. There is no shame in it; we all write for different reasons. For those that would like to have their work read by others, we'll need to get past any aversion to reading and really dive in.
Why do we need to read in order to write? We can answer that question by drawing a parallel with another artistic profession.
Imagine a musician who did not listen to music written or performed by other musicians. The absurdity of the situation is evident in that the most common question asked of a new performer on the music scene is "Who are your influences?"
There would never have been a Rolling Stones without Muddy Waters. The Stones couldn't have been as great if they didn't have the Beatles to drive them toward excellence. And without the Stones, The White Stripes and Aerosmith might have been polka bands. Not a rock fan? Substitute any musician (or published author) and you'll be able to track their influences backward and their influence forward.
What's the point? If you are not reading you are not learning all you can about how to become a better author. If you are not learning you will never improve.
So, start reading everything you can get your hands on. Yes, everything. Read the stories in your preferred genre to see how it's been done in the past. Read stories in other genre to see what could be done to expand you're preferred genre. Read stories that might not be ready for publication, to learn to spot areas that need improvement.
You'll be amazed at how quickly your own writing will improve as you start to spot trends in the tactics used by your peers.