Back in 2004 when I first started writing seriously, I learned I couldn't read while I was writing. Everything I read inserted it's voice in place of my own. Fiction... non-fiction... it didn't matter. If it had a voice, it was overriding my own.
So, I stopped reading. At least while I was working on my own manuscripts. And I'm talking years here. I'd be surprised if I read a dozen books a year 2004-2006.
Slowly, over time, my own voice got strong enough that it could drown those other voices out. But still, I couldn't read books of the same genre I was writing. No suspense during, say, Dying Embers. No paranormal anything during Wish in One Hand.
Then I reached a point where it didn't really matter. Yay. I could read anything while writing anything.
Until last week, when I read a book with such a strong voice, my own ran yipping into the barn. I sat down to work on Ugly and the Beast, and suddenly it wasn't my voice spilling out onto the page, it was hers. (Not that her voice wasn't awesome, but I kinda like my own, thank you very much.)
Oh, it didn't take as long as it used to for me to get my own voice back. Once I realized what was happening, I wiped that other voice out and got back to being me.
So, when you hear someone saying they don't read when they write, don't be too hard on them. They might be protecting their voice until it gets strong enough to stand on its own. And if you find yourself unable to read while you're writing, don't be too hard on yourself. Protect the writing. Protect your own special, unique voice. You can read after the new words are on the page.
If you're a reader, have you read a book where the voice sounded almost exactly like another writer's? If you're a writer, have you ever had to protect your voice? Or is it just me?