The first piece of advice aspiring writers receive is, "Read." Steven King said it, agents have said it, and it is (I believe) the seventh habit in 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists. Everyone knows this; I want to talk about the execution.
Every writer I know struggles to keep their schedule balanced. Most of us have full time jobs or families that require the lion's share of our time. Writing is something we squeeze into those precious few minutes we call our own. We know we should read; we want to read; it is finding the time that is difficult.
Yesterday I created a writing schedule--fifteen hours blocked out each week are dedicated to my own story. On Tuesday and Thursday I'll write before work, which means those evenings can be filled with reading. I don't know if it's enough, but it's a start.
To stay on track, I've also joined a reading challenge. Laurel Ann of Austenprose is hosting the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. My participation level is Disciple, with 5-8 selections. I will read Eliza's Daughter by Joan Aiken, Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange, The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine, and Reason and Romance by Debra White-Smith; I will watch Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Sense and Sensibility (2008).
Even with a schedule and a reading list, finding time to read will not be easy. How do you, as writers, deal with this? What sort of balance do you strive for? Do you read an hour for every hour you write? Every two hours? Do you spend your lunches and breaks reading, and write when you get home? Any tips you can offer would be most appreciated.