Read, read, read. How can you enjoy writing without having a passionate love for the written word? How can you write stories if you don't enjoy reading them? Not just the professional mags and blogs but novels, short stories, anything you yourself would like to write. You do learn from what you read. Sometimes when you come across a dire piece, you can still learn from it - what not to do! The trick is to make sure that dire piece is not one of yours!
Contemporary and Classic Fiction
Read contemporary fiction and classic. You need to know what’s going on out there now (and no you won’t keep on top of it all) as well as having a fund of classics which inspire you. After all the classic writers became that way for a reason - they’re good, very good!
Read non-fiction as well as fiction. It may give you ideas to help you populate your fictional world - my Queen’s Chief Leader, L’Evallier, is roughly based on Queen Elizabeth I’s minister, William, Lord Burghley. There I was looking for qualities as well as the similiarities in job. Burghley was not afraid to criticize his boss and always spoke his mind. She knew she needed that. Makes for an interesting relationship - one where there are clashes but there’s always the unspoken question. Will either of them take things too far? Elizabeth almost did after the execution of Mary Stuart when she banished Burghley from Court for a while (and he was devastated by that). L’Evallier becomes more outspoken as the novels go on… will he reach the point of no return? And at the point of writing this I don’t know either! It’ll be fun finding out, I hope.