Brilliant, longtime critic Laura Miller was interviewed recently by Poets & Writers. One of their first questions was about a statement she’d made about preferring reading to writing.
Her response, in part:
We live in a time when everyone wants to write and seemingly no one “has time” to read. Everyone wants to speak and increasingly few people want to listen. People sometimes scoff when I make this observation and claim that aspiring writers read more than anyone else, but that is not my experience. I’m constantly meeting people who, when they learn what I do, always want to talk about the book they plan to write despite the fact that they seem to find no books worth reading. We fetishize the idea of being a writer in a variety of ways, most of them narcissistic. So when I meet a big reader who professes no desire to write, I think of them as a beautiful, almost mythical creature, like a unicorn, to be celebrated.
So while writers of course need (always) to get back to work (speaking of which, why are you wasting time on this?), it’s also helpful that they remember something. Save time to read, because if you don’t, you could well forget the joys of reading and thusly the reasons why anybody would want to pick up and devour what you yourself are spending so much time to create.
In other words: Write for the reader inside you.