Every year I like to set myself a reading and writing challenge. Normally I set myself a number of books to read (this year it's 60, exactly the same as last year), plus something a little different. In 2011 it was to 'read the alphabet' - so for 'A' it would be Asimov, 'M' Mieville and so on. I failed. I didn't read any authors whose last names began with X or Y, among others. But it gave something a bit different to my reading and made me read things I wouldn't normally try.
This year my challenge is to split my reading between male and female writers, as well as to read a short story a day. In the past I've neglected too many talented ladies because I've had the works of male writers who I liked to read through. Already this year I've read five books - four of which have been by men, and the one woman whose novel I've read was well known to me. I never meant to not read the work of women. It just happened. But I intend to remedy it this year, with Connie Willis, Robin Hobb, Alison Littlewood, and K.J. Parker all waiting to be read. No doubt I'll be picking up more as the year goes on - the excellent SF Masterworks imprint from Gollancz seems to be releasing many more works by women at the moment, and I have no doubt I'll be picking up a dozen or so of those this year (with The Female Man top of the hitlist).
As for the short stories, I'm already well ahead of target. In 23 days I've read 35 stories, and kept my resolution to read a short story a day.
Sadly, the writing is a different story. There's no word count target in place this year, but I've yet to really start work on my monthly short story. I seem to be stuck in a rut where I sit down to work, do some work... and then leave the land fallow where an idea should go. It's not been helping that I have a few big ideas clamouring for attention, but that's no excuse. I need to write.