I have a firm unwavering belief that a writer must be a reader. A writer, who carefully reads, absorbs techniques and tricks to enhance their own writing artillery. So I wasn't surprised to recently hear Karen Russell say that when her own narrative voice slips she rereads George Saunders.
I am similarly influenced by what I read (not always - it depends on the text); occasionally they are a suitable match: what I'm reading aids with what I'm writing; but on the rare occasion I have the reverse situation whereby I need to rewrite parts to ensure that my own narrative voice is consistent and not overly influenced by whatever book I'm reading.
Mary Gordon writes about utilising writing that she admires and copying it by pen. In a way, it's like dancing with an instructor - learning and acquiring pointers from their expertise.
"Then I proceed to the fiction I'm reading seriously, the one I'm using as a kind of tuning fork, the one I need to sound the tone that I will take up in the fiction that I'm writing at the time....I copy paragraphs whose heft and cadence I can learn from."
Mary Gordon, Putting Pen to Paper, but Not Just Any Pen or Any Paper