Illustration by Izak Zenou
You don't have to anything, of course. But man, if you're not reading, you're missing out. I can't tell you how many epiphanies I had about writing upon reading something bloody spectacular. The latest of them, Faulkner.
I didn't know you could write like this.
Read this phrase again.
I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD WRITE LIKE THIS.
You see what's happening here? The more great shit you read, the more ways of writing you'll see. Now, why is it important? It's important because when you're starting out to write, you're uncertain. You don't know how to go about it. You have these ideas and this drive to do it, but you're scared out of your mind. And you don't dare at first to write like you. You know why? Because you don't know "the rules" and so you don't know if you're breaking them.
Rules, rules. Fuck rules. "The rules" I'm talking about here are the ways of writing you see. It's how we learn the language. We hear and we repeat. Same here. We read and we copy. After all, there are only so many ways of saying the same stuff over and over again, and all stories are the same. What's not the same is how you write them.
Until you can boldly charge forward giving zero fucks about what people might think about you or your writing or your books, you've got to get some confidence. And how do you get it? By reading. It's freeing seeing someone else do what you only thought about doing. I mean, if you don't read, how the hell do you intend to grow?