Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Influences by other authors

I've noticed a trend in my writing over the years. Or rather, not my writing so much as my creative direction. After reading a book by another author (a good one, anyhow), for a few days my mind wants to go in a similar direction as that other author. It's something I was not fully aware of when I started jotting down ideas as a teenager, and now looking back at some of those early scribblings I can definitely tell where some of them stemmed from.

While I recognize that this is not an uncommon happening, it's something I have to watch out for as an author. I don't get nearly as much reading time in as I'd like these days, but when I devour a book by one of my favorite authors I need to recognize the fact that it may influence my writing for a short period afterwards. This doesn't mean that I avoid writing altogether, but it does mean that I need to try and inoculate myself against undue outside influence. I do this by reviewing my previous writing longer in preparation for each stint of new authorship, and even just recognizing that there may be an issue there is enough to help inoculate my mind.

This isn't to say that it's all bad, of course! Everyone - author or not - is going to be influenced by their most recent reads. Our creative impulses are all shaped in one manner or another by those who have come before us, whether it's a desire to compete or imitate. I wouldn't want to disregard the influences I've had from other authors, I just want to set aside the immediate impact of any one specific book or series at a point in time.