The world may be full of fourth-rate writers, but it's also full of fourth-rate readers. — Stan Barstow
You say that you want to write? Good, I'm glad to hear it. Welcome to the club.
But before you start to send out work thinking it is the best in the world and going to sell a zillion copies and going to net you a fortune as big as that Rowling woman, there's one thing you must do.
You must read.
You must read.
Not just the occasional book, but as many books and as hungrily as you can.
Good books. Bad books.
Books in any genre. But most especially books in the genre you want to write.
"Go away and read a thousand books," Raman tells wanna-be writer who wander into his shop to seek advice.
And I'd say, yes, more or less, that's exactly it.
Because if you don't read, how will you enrich your store of words?
Because if you don't read, how will you know what's possible?
Because if you don't read, how do you develop that inner critical voice that tells you whether your work is any good or not?
The answer is, quite simply, that you won't.
And I don't think you will will be able to write anything that will interest me.
If your time-impoverished-pragmatic-self baulks at the idea of carving out some reading time in a busy day, and you feel guilty because you see reading as an indulgence, remember: reading time is really writing time, and it is the most effective, least painful way to improve your craft.
If I haven't made my case persuasively enough, please go and read this essay by writer Patricia Ann Jones.
...give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed. -Anne Rice
Good writing comes from good reading. You have to do as much as possible and read as widely as possible. Only by reading can you understand your own work. - Tash Aw
A good style simply doesn't form unless you absorb a dozen topflight authors every year. - F. Scott Fitzgerald