I know you read. I think I know what you read. You read the magazines where you plan to submit your articles. You read novels similar to your own Newbery-in-progress. You read market guides, professional journals, publishers' catalogs and how-to-write books. Good for you. If you also find time to read for pleasure, even better.
With that much reading, you must read fast. Right? WELL STOP!
Read slowly. Allow the printed words to percolate through your brain cells triggering synaptic sparks. Those sparks may tickle a memory cell. If so, allow the memory to unfurl then write it down in your omnipresent journal. Another spark might jangle your emotional center. Good. Examine your responses—anger, pity, impatience, fear. Where's that journal?
What if the sparks scatter and reap rampant confusion? Think the author organized poorly? Visualize the scene your way, another journal entry.
Feel, think, and ask questions as you read. "Is this guy kidding?" or, "I hear you, sister," and, "Been there, brother." Utilize these synaptic sparks. After all, that's how the brain works. Crackles of chemical energy become thoughts, feelings and IDEAS.
Rapid reading crowds out any thoughtful responses as you race toward the next paragraph. So slow down. Don't gallop. Graze.
Since becoming a writer, I find it difficult to read without keeping one eye and one ear tuned for ideas as I peruse other writer's offerings. Keep a journal or notebook handy as you read. You never know when something you read will trigger an idea about something to write.