As I’ve been trying to get through a few more books to round up my reading for the month, I’m noticing quite prominently what I’ve noticed a little bit in the past, and that is that I have a really bad habit of writing what I read. Sometimes, this extends to themes, but it’s mostly reflected in the style in which my writing is coming out. Things in this month’s novel took a decidedly noir turn after reading “100 Malicious Little Mysteries,” and it’s taking a lighter turn now that I’m delving into some Vonnegut and Dave Barry. I imagine when I go back through to read some of what I wrote last year, I’ll find them all a hodgepodge of different styles; I wonder if it would be obvious enough that I could think to myself “Oh, I must have been reading Such and Such then!” or if it’s more subtle in retrospect.
I suppose that is one key problem with the way I’m currently writing. It’s very ADD. I don’t stick with a piece for a long strain of time, which I probably should do more. As with anything, consistency comes from dedicating time and effort into something continually, but the problem is that I don’t have the attention span for it, more often than not. That shouldn’t be an excuse, though. If I want my writing to be my writing, and not just my writing inspired by Insert Author Here, I need to be giving the work some more dedicated attention. Just like in a relationship.
I’d probably be better about finishing things in that regard, too.
But I do wonder if any other writers out there notice themselves doing the same thing. Do you feel your work is heavily influenced by what you’re reading, or even what you might be watching on television or listening to on the radio? Or do you find yourself among the blessed who don’t feel the sway of other influences? What sort of techniques do you have to get yourself from writing like So and So, or channeling That Guy while you work? Or is this an issue that shouldn’t be worried about, because everyone’s going to show influence, but any writer who’s dedicated will still shine through with their own individual style even with the influences?
I do think my ultimate strategy, though, should be focusing a chunk of time just for writing. It works for most people, and the benefits should be good overall.