“I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read” – Samuel Johnson, English author
Excellent writers are voracious readers. There is no way around this point. If you are not a regular reader, your work will suffer.
Some may argue that writing is an exercise in imagination and can be successfully done independent of acquainting yourself with a wide variety of other writers. Please note the level of esteem and success of any writer who says that and then think twice about adopting that belief.
Reading is critical because it stimulates your literary imagination. You may read a work like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and be inspired to write a new take on the post-apocalyptic novel. When you read the work of other authors, it stimulates the formation of ideas (and acts a surefire cure for writer’s block).
The other major reason why writers must be voracious readers is that through reading, a writer learns how successful writers tackle the fundamentals. You’ll learn how they structure their work, how they address topics, how they construct sentences, how they describe environments and individuals, how they express themes without being didactic. You’ll absorb much of it subconsciously, and when you have difficulties in the writing process, you’ll have a wide variety of works to draw from as templates to help you power through any challenges.
Reading other writers is not just a feel-good act, one that is optional. Reading other writers is the foundation on which all your future success will be built. It removes the whiff of dilettantism from your work. Read more, write more, and build your name!