As far as I yet know, reading and writing do not feed each other equally.
They are two different urges, two different parts of our souls. One is to discover and one is to recover. One (writing) is to act and the other (reading) is to remind.
When I sit down to read, there is a quietness that I must achieve in order to do this. You can’t get too hyped up with a nervous energy, like one does to get ready to fight or compete against someone, like you do with writing. When I sit down to read, so, I wind down, I slip into a cocoon of reflection and interest. I want to be taken somewhere by the voice of the writer. It is a very passive thing, ironically so, since it takes a mental alertness to decipher and arrange words from lines into visions in your head. I am laid in a cradle when I read.
Conversely, when I sit down to write, I am charged with a sword of fire, burning the paths of white noise and white screen into lines of written word, interpreted from my own writer’s visions in my head. (Editing is somewhere in the middle, which makes it so tough to be a true writer, since writing is really editing. To marry these two elements is to master more than just writing and reading.)
But these two do not fuel each other equally. It is always possible to write after having read a good passage or story, but not so all the time when you write a good passage or story. Quite the opposite, with so much mental energy expended, the last thing one wants is to read after they write.
But the reading is not totally useless. It offers something that is very important to a writer. First, it offers a range of varying styles, voices, and narratives that the writer couldn’t have ever pictured before. And second, it gives us a view into another way of showing these things. In other words, both give us allowance to do what we want to do. Too many times writers get stuck in their heads about what they can or cannot do.
Writing helps us defeat Nietzsche’s dragon, Thou Shalt, but reading gives us permission to do so. One is craft and the other is knowledge of the craft.