4. We Read. A Lot. Often. Constantly.
As serious writers, we read, and we do so in a variety of areas, always seeking to know more about writing and about our world. We read in our genre, but we read outside our field.
Too often I meet want-to-be writers who don't read—people who don't like to read—and yet they feel they must write. That doesn't make sense to me. Someone said it's like hating horses while raising herds of them, and lecturing around the country on how to love your horse. It's not only hypocritical; it won't work.
Professional writers don't like to read---they're compulsive and must read. They snatch minutes whenever possible to fill their eyes and minds with words and new thoughts.
Words are our tools and we examine their meanings. We feel them and we learn to distinguish between when to use small or little, tiny, miniscule, or minute. We read and pick up nuances of meaning, marvel at the expressive efforts of others, or groan at the lack of skill in our own manuscripts.
We absorb techniques and ideas when we read, mostly unconsciously. We find ourselves absorbed and challenged by writers who are better than we are. And there are always writers who are superior.
We read for pleasure but even then we read to learn and to grow. Every article or book we read becomes a teacher. As we read, we ask questions. Why did she start the story there? What does that word mean? Why did he use the subjunctive mood?
Professional writers are compulsive readers.