You should be reading while you’re writing. Why? It sparks ideas for you regardless of the genre you’re writing in. Currently, I’m writing a thriller novel and that’s my primary focus. I have a full-time job, take care of my kids, and consistently tell my wife “Okay, fine. I’ll take care of that.” When I’m not doing one of those three things, I’m reading a book or writing.
Every night, I set aside 15–30 minutes to read. I’m reading “Missing You” by Harlan Coben. It’s in the genre I’m writing so when I’m reading, I’m also focusing on how he writes, his tone, and plot structure.
Do you need to read in the same genre you’re writing in?
No, you could pull ideas from anything and anywhere. There is a little bit of romance in the book I’m writing. That didn’t come from any thriller or mystery novels I’ve read. Those ideas came from a romantic movie I’ve watched. That’s why you shouldn’t limit your reading to the genre you’re writing in.
How important is it to read consistently?
It’s almost a necessity. Imagine the best basketball players in the world saying to the coach, “I’ll play in the game, but there’s no way I’m practicing or working out.” You have to do these things to build your craft. Reading will help you build your writing skills. You should try to read a book that’s similar to how you write and another book that’s completely different. This way you can look at both points of view to improve.
Keep writing and continue reading and you’ll master your craft in no time.