My second answer is to read, read, read.
You can discover a lot about a writer by what they read. I love asking other writers this question: What are your favorite books? And if they start mentioning some of my favorites it's as if we are connected in some way.
When I went out for coffee with my editor, I thought it was so ironic when she asked me this very same question! Of course, I was so excited and nervous to be sitting with my editor (okay, so maybe I was kind of FREAKING out) that my first answer was something like, "I love that new fantasy book with the girl with those powers and it was so awesome."
* Yeah, that was the crazy in me because in my head I was really thinking: "OMG, I'm sitting in a coffee shop with MY editor! I've completely died and gone to writer's heaven."
** The book I was trying to talk to her about was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
Why is it important to read?
1. Read within your genre.
I try to actively read books within the genre I write. Some people say, "No, I don't want to do that because it will influence my ideas." And I do get that.
My advice is to segregate your reading time and your writing time. Either separate your mornings for writing and evenings for reading. Or do what I like to do where I fast draft a book for a month, then I take a week and read everything I can get my hands on, then go back to revising.
2. By reading within your genre, you are keeping up with the market.
The market is ever changing. As a mom, I love to read my boys the classics such as The Boxcar Kids and Little House on the Prairie. But I also read to them newly released books such as the Percy Jackson series and The Fast and the Furriest. Both types are brilliant, but the books of fifty years ago are far different than the ones being printed today.
3. Study the craft of other authors.
It always takes me longer to read books than my husband. Why is that? Because I'm studying the book's plot structure, analyzing why certain characters ring true to me while others don't, looking at how sentences are arranged and even how long the chapters are.
As an author, I'm always finding ways to make my stories stronger. So when I expose myself to great storytelling, I push myself to become a better storyteller because I'm seeing it in action.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on reading and writing and how the two are connected.
Christina Farley's debut YA, GILDED, releases spring 2014 by Skyscape/ Amazon Children's Publishing. She is represented by Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC. She blogs and vlogs about writing and traveling, and is often found procrastinating on Twitter