As a writer there are many ways to improve. Writing helps, as do other things, but reading other writing has to be one of the most influential things you can ever do with one caveat – as long as that writing is better than your own. If you are Stephen King or any other hugely successful author then this still applies, because there are elements somewhere that someone does better, whether it’s dialogue, imagery or plot.
I notice my own writing improves when I read authors that are better than I currently am. It translates into a better grasp of language. It’s the principle that you can’t improve unless you face a stronger opponent. Chances are you’ll ‘lose’, but a lesson or three will have been learnt. Same goes for sports, business, you name it.
But reading anything is generally a good thing. Even in awful texts you can appreciate how not to do something or that Far From the Madding Crowd should have been shot into space to remind astronauts how dreadful the place below them actually is.
You can only be better than the greatest book you’ve read – would you agree?