One of the core rules of being a writer is being an avid reader. If you are going to be a successful writer, you have to be a successful reader. That’s just how it works. The digestion of words is like fuel for a writer. As a writer, the rule of thumb is that you have to read and be a voracious reader at that. No matter how you slice it, reading is a fundamental part of any writer honing their craft. There is no way around this point and there is no substitute for this requirement.
A writer not reading is the same as any athlete not watching or learning about their sport. Think of a football or basketball player who doesn’t watch practice film, who doesn't watch actual games or study their playbook. How much would they be handicapping their performance on their job? How would they be able to learn about their competition? How many opportunities to improve are they missing out on?
As a writer, going without reading is the same as going without food and water. You just can’t do it. The same way we have to find time to write, we must also find the time to read. Not only to find out what our colleagues are writing, but also to learn how those before us did what we are trying to do now. Reading also helps us continue to expand our knowledge of this art form.
A writer who reads more than just their own work shows a true respect for his craft as well as a willingness to expose him or herself to the many aspects of writing to include new writing styles, new words, and new techniques. Making the mistake of thinking that your particular writing style is the end all to be all is probably the last mistake you will ever make as a writer, because chances are, your career as a writer will be short-lived and fruitless.
If you are going to do this thing called writing and do it well, then there is a necessity to immerse yourself completely in the “World of Words” that exists all around us. If you have downtime somewhere, have a book with you. Carry a paper copy or have an e-book or audio-book on your phone or tablet. If you have a long commute, audio-books are great for that too!
Regardless of how you do it, just make sure you do it. Read like a staving man would devour good food. One truism in writing is: reading is one of the most important ways that you get better as a writer.
So, happy writing AND reading!