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Many of my college professors lectured us on the importance of reading, but I had one who was particularly adamant on the subject. Every class period, at some point throughout the hour, Phillips would say—yell— "If you aren't reading at least an hour every day, you're not serious about succeeding as a writer." 

Maybe his message stood out to me because he was surly and short and reveled in his use of expletives, but he practiced what he preached and we all respected him for itThrough his passion and unending knowledge of authors and short stories, it was evident to all of us that he never passed a day without reading something. 

It’s almost always a struggle for me to find the time to read—or maybe just a matter of prioritiesbut every time I hear the berating voice of that professor ringing in my head, I shuffle my schedule, find a book, and re-center myself. I’m never sorry when I do.   

Reading (reading anything!) fills me with words, ideas, and inspiration for my own creation. The best books and articles shift my perspective, and even get me excited about writing: I become that doe-eyed, fresh-faced college sophomore all over again. It’s magic.   

My sister always says, "I can't create in a vacuum!" and she's right. Writers need to read, musicians listen to other composers, and painters wander art museums.  Creating isn't easy, and it certainly doesn't happen if I'm not regularly communing with the creations of others. 

If you're serious about succeeding in your craft, carve out a bit of time for inspiration.  Drink in the works of others, fill up that empty space, and pour it back out as your own new creation. 

- Amy Huckaba