A piece of writing advice that shocked me was to spend as much time reading as writing.
That’s ridiculous. If I do that, the little time I have to write will be cut in half.
Not counting my day job, I can only carve out a couple of hours a day to write, so cutting that in half in order to read more seemed counterproductive. However, after a bit of thought, I figured out a way to read more without cutting into my writing. The answer was quite simply to watch less TV.
I do my writing in the morning. When evening rolls around, I am usually too tired to write well, so I watch TV. However, I am not too tired to read. So, reading has become a regular part of my evening routine.
Although I seldom read for a couple of hours each night — which is the requisite amount if I am to read as much as I write — I am reading almost every evening. This has several benefits:
- My time is used more productively and constructively.
- I am exposed to ideas and thoughts that can better form and influence my own work.
- I experience different styles and techniques, which I can follow (or avoid) in becoming better.
- As a bonus, I am able to chip away at that stack of books awaiting my attention.
The advice to read as much as you write may be hyperbole, but the point is that just as you need to write every day, you should also read every day.