A few months ago, I participated in a discussion with a bunch of fellow writers about their reading habits. I came away from the discussion kinda surprised and bewildered. Obviously, this topic has been percolating in the back of my brain since, and I've finally figured out how and why I wanted to write this little piece.
To me, it should be second nature to read as widely and as varied as you can, if you're playing (seriously, or otherwise) at this writing gig. During the above referenced discussion, there were quite a few writers that claimed they didn't read much, if at all. That was simply surprising to me and a bit of a head scratcher.
My initial response to the thread was this, "An author must read, or their writing will suffer." I certainly wasn't expecting the response I got to that statement. It seemed like second nature to me. There were quite a few writers that said they didn't read for pleasure (or otherwise) and seemed to be proud of the fact. A few even responded to me with varying degrees of "Broad sweeping statements like that don't apply to all writers, etc."
When words are what you do, reading words should be a part of that process. Writing in a vacuum is not necessarily a productive way to go about things, in my opinion. I'm a reader first, I'm an author second. I read because I love it, I write because I have to. Now, everyone's reading habits are, indeed, different. For me, I read (at least) 4 to 5 books simultaneously. That doesn't work for everyone. My TBR pile is massive, there is so much I want to read and absorb and I do my best to finish at least 2 to 3 books a week. If I'm not writing, I'm reading. Absorbing the craft, learning how other authors use language, and simply enjoying the stories.
I don't read in just one genre either, that, I think, is also detrimental. An author needs to read far and wide, to absorb, to learn, to experience.
There's ton of writing advice all over the internet. Most of it is crap because it assumes a universal fit, the key is knowing what advice to take, use it, or stop clinging to it, if it doesn't work for you.
Like this blog, being a well-read author is key to crafting your own stuff
...or not :)