Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Push-Pull with the Voices of Other Writers

 You know you're developing an internal voice for writing when you find yourself avoiding or approaching other authors on the basis of how they'll affect your own voice during a writing session.

I'm reading an author right now with whom I've got a push-pull relationship. Her voice and in turn her ethos or stance can become too influential on some days, like a fascinating but strong-willed companion. But I have also become strong willed so it's a balancing act, deciding when to use her work to jump-start my day and when she is crowding me out. I need a sensor for that impact.

Sometimes picking up a particular writer serves to "jump start" my writing day. Just a few sentences or lines, and my own writing voice gets fired up and ready to work. Invention begins as a desire to join the conversation started by the other writer. It really doesn't matter what the author is writing about: more style/approach and less content/subject/genre.

It's frequently helpful and even inspiring to get a draft done that way, imitating and picking up on another writer's voice. You can always go back and change your style at a later moment, a later draft. From this method, you may see new angles and find material. Adopting a voice can produce an interesting base coat and challenge a writer to think differently (aka "critical thinking"). Sometimes though I need to enforce a complete break from another writer's strong voice early on. It's all about assessing and accepting what's really happening.

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