Time for reading and writing both come from the same pool of time. During one phase of my career I created training for an application called the Extended Time Generator. This allowed manufacturing supervisors to move chargeable time to different phases of a project. It did not really extend the total time in which all the tasks could be done but shifted it.
As much as we would all love a device to increase our time, it doesn’t exist. With this in mind, it quickly becomes apparent that I can read too much, and not have enough time to write. This often happens when I am doing research. I discover another intriguing aspect to chase after and emerge from that rabbit hole hours later without accomplishing much.
I don’t read to entertain myself or to become more educated but to quench my curiosity. Therefore, I don’t attempt to keep track of books I’ve read or movies that I’ve watched because I tend to remember them. Perhaps it is because I am picky with my reading time and put thought into choosing books. I will read more than the first page, usually up to five chapters. However, books that I start, I can close and never finish if they lack quality for me to continue. I do not keep reading just to find out what happens.
Inspiration from reading novels written by good authors provides me with much more insight than following a book with rules about writing. So, I do take notes on fiction books occasionally. There is no other way to read Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, or Solzhenitsyn if I don’t keep track of the characters. (However, I never found this necessary when reading Lord of the Rings.) If the plot becomes too complex, but I still find it intriguing, I create notes. I used to jot down ideas that occurred to me in a notebook, but illegible handwriting means sometimes even I can’t even read it. Now, dictating notes onto my phone has replaced this habit. Even when I read a poorly constructed story or piece of convoluted nonfiction it is not a complete waste of time. This clues me into what I should avoid when writing.
But, no matter how efficient I become when reading, it still subtracts time from writing. What I attempt to do is prevent it from subtracting as much energy from writing. I reserve the times of the day in which I’m most creative, which are mid-mornings and evenings. I spend increasingly more time writing than reading as a novel or another writing project continues. In fact, I’ll just dispense with the time spent reading completely near the end of one, unless I feel my creative well is drying up. In that situation, there is the other factor beside reading to inspire my writing, and that is actually living life.