Ever read a book you thought you could have written better yourself?
Oh, yeah. I don’t want to name names (awkward), but there are plenty of books I’ve read with confused, awkward plot structure, problematic depictions of, well, anyone, and a generally boring writing style, among other, enormous flaws. It’s not that I think I’m a better writer, but that the books in question are that bad. I attended a lecture recently where the speaker mentioned that we often assume that a published book is good; I shook my head, because I know that’s not true. Stephen King says that be to a writer, one needs to read, and this is part of that, being able to identify elements that don’t work in other texts so you can avoid them in your own. And the reverse, of course, is true—being able to identify elements that work so you can experiment with them.