Here's a great article in the Boston Globe: So, you want to be a writer? Here's how. by Allegra Goodman.
I agree with everything except why to read poetry. Of course, I'm one to talk since I rarely read it. (I do listen to it often at readings, however.) I would say that we should read poetry to learn to be more concise. Notice how much imagery poets pack into such a small space.
Of course, another great way to learn this is by reading and writing flash fiction (stories under 1000 words). Yes, a novel takes the long way home and should, but we shouldn't meander down uninteresting alleyways, or visit the cafe if nothing worthwhile happens there. Likewise we don't need more than a sentence to describe a chair. Or the word "very" ever! Flash and poetry teach word economy, which is another important thing to learn if you actually want to get the novel published. Gone are the days when you can spend the first three pages describing the room in the opening scene. The editor will make his/her decision whether to read further often before the third page. It's a fact of life. They have piles of manuscripts to read, so we have to grab them immediately.
I'm a novelist who also writes flash. It's good practice. I have another piece coming to EDF (Every Day Fiction) on August 30 (Don't worry. I'll remind you later). EDF only publishes flash fiction and you can even have it delivered to your inbox every day. Way better than the news.