However, as a writer I always desiccate the things I immerse myself into - sometimes subconsciously. That is not to say that I don't enjoy them - I just don't take the material I consume for granted anymore. I look at structure, word choice, pacing, plot, character... A lot of stuff.
And while it hasn't diminished my enjoyment it has become different.
What about you? Feel free to chip in.
Actually, I was reading Brad T's story in Analog a while ago when it gave me an idea of how to speed up the action in a slow part in the middle of one of my stories.
I also pick up on how characters are portrayed. Character can be tough and to find a unique voice for each character can be a challenge.
I also try to read and pay attention to how much of the prose is dedicated to character and setting and how much is dedicated to plot. Another easy rut to get stuck in is a story that has the white room syndrome.
And part way through another one I stopped and thought "Hey, that's a bunch of tell".
One short, I stopped reading after a few pages and thought that was done rather well. She split up a info dump throughout one scene, including the info in the story instead of a separate paragraph like most writers do. Of course if they do it well enough a paragraph still seems like part of the story.
Usually though I still manage to read without those types of interruptions.
I also am far less patient with TV and movie writing these days. It's not just a matter of working so hard to improve my own writing and seeing the poor writing around me, I strongly believe that TV writing has gone dramatically downhill in quality in the last few years. There are always exceptions, of course, but they seem limited to the comedy shows.
The variety on television has also gone down it seems like, converging into cop dramas, sitcoms and cartoons, murder or medical mysteries, and the variety of unscripted shows that include sports, reality TV, and cooking shows.
My biggest pet peeve is that all the recent sci-fi shows have been utter failures in writing and usually acting as well. Those are the shows I'd be most interested in seeing and they're the ones who are done the most poorly.
Sorry for the minor rant on television, but yes, the more I write the more I look at everything I see with a more critical eye to technique and obvious mistakes or plot holes. A part of me longs for the good old days when I enjoyed just about everything I watched or read :/.
I've read a number of interesting non-fiction books, information-wise---but I find myself irritated by bad grammar or some factual mistake. One that stands out is a book about the history of the Tommy Gun---seemed like a poorly-written-albeit-well-researched account, until I got to the end, and was rewarded with a section that was lyrical and moving even if it wasn't the best written thing in the world.
As for helping my own writing...well, I think being able to do all this with the works of others helps me assemble things better in my own work. If I can take something apart, see how it works, and put it back together again, I can do the same with my own stuff.
(Or I like to think I can.)
How does it help me to pick apart Stephanie Meyers? It doesn't. I'm not going to learn anything. But if I ask what she did correctly, I find it helps me better improve my own work.
There's also the sense of "picking something to pieces" as critiquing---of which we've got lots of threads and posts about. I haven't done much of it here, but in the past, I thought I learned a lot from doing it.