On Monday, there was a very lively discussion on Debra L. Schubert's nifty blog, Write On Target, about whether reading makes you a better writer.
Many commenters felt it was essential--to be a better writer, you have to read. Reading improves your writing.
Debra had a slightly different take. She felt that the countless years she'd already spent reading are what helped her become a good writer, and that current and future reading, while important, wouldn't help her improve as much as more writing would. (Of course, don't let me put words into her mouth, go here to see what she has to say.)
I'm inclined to agree with her.
I think the biggest way to improve as a writer is to write. And write a lot.
Don't get me wrong--I love to read. And I do think reading in a wide range of genres will improve your writing. It's just that, on an hour-by-hour basis, I think you'll get more payoff by writing than by reading. (See: Law of Diminishing Returns.)
As with everything else, it becomes a matter of priorities. There's only so much day in each day.
Of course, you gotta like a "job" where it's easy to justify kicking back with a good book for the sake of improved performance.
Upcoming blog posts: In this Friday's post, I'll be opening up a small window into my sausage-making process (sometimes called revisions). Next week, I'm excited to have a two-part interview with Keith Raffel, author of DOT DEAD, and the recently released SMASHER. Should be fun!