How Much Reading Is Beneficial to Your Writing?

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I have heard many people say that reading constantly is crucial to becoming a good writer. The reasoning goes that if you read good material you'll write good material.

My question is: what exactly is the optimum amount of reading that is actually beneficial to your writing? It seems to me that if you do too much reading that your own personal style could be destroyed, or you might simply not have enough time to practice the actual writing part of writing.

This came to my mind as it is only the second day of the semester, and I've already had to read about 70 textbook pages worth of literature. No, those aren't nearly the same as pages out of a work of pulp fiction. Those were 70 large pages with very tiny text and lots of confusing words and archaic diction.

Obviously I need to do all of this reading for my degree. But is it actually helping me become a better writer?

According to Brian Clark's 10 steps to becoming a better writer, you've got to focus on writing. Reading doesn't even make the list. (Obviously this post was probably intended to drive a point home, but consider the point well taken.)

I'm all for reading and filling my head with more knowledge and exposing myself to more styles of writing and words I don't know, but I think my personal development as a writer would benefit more at the present time from simply serious practice putting words together, and then getting them torn apart again by a professor.

Not that I enjoy the pressure of getting my essays graded but hey, sometimes you've got to learn the hard way.