Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reading + writing?

I've seen many times online how people say they don't read while they're writing for fear of (unconsciously) adopting pieces of what they're reading, including the voice/style of another author.

Now, I don't read while writing... but it has nothing to do with fear. I just suck at multitasking, and am not afraid to admit it ;)

Writing takes up too much brain space to allow for much of anything else (yes, yes, here's the spot to insert/comment/send me dumb-blonde jokes), and when I'm in writing-mode, the dog needs to perform a pretty remarkable tango to snap me out of that writing-mode and remind me of the fact that she isn't actually capable of using indoor plumbing.

When I first read (several years ago) about being afraid of adopting other writers' style/voice/etc, my reaction was... "Seriously?"

Because that just doesn't compute...

But then I kept hearing/reading the same thing.

I think it would take a lot of work to write in a voice other than my own... to change my style, to merge/meld with another. Maybe I'm just lazy? Maybe my dyslexic-brain can't switch gears to a new track? Sure, I can draw in any number of different styles, but I like my own. I like the lines and shapes my pencil automatically follows when I'm sketching/doodling. Writing my own voice/style is just as easy. I don't think, I just do.

But what do you guys think?

To you, is this a legitimate fear, and if so, why/how?

I get that, when you analyze something you like, how you can use it as a tool to *improve* your own writing, but I wouldn't consider that *adopting*. I'd call that learning. That's how/why I can draw in so many different styles. You analyze, you learn, you re-create, you move on and integrate it into your own thing.

Yup, I totally thought those sharp Anime/Manga styled noses from the 80's & 90's were ridiculous until I figured out *why* they're drawn that way.

A little while ago, I kinda ranted about 'kick-ass-female-characters' because I read 6 books within a couple of days where the lead female characters were near carbon-copies of each other. Does that mean any of those authors were *adopting* from each other? Or from an earlier book?

If every story has been already told a thousand times, and all that makes us interesting is our own, unique take on the tired, regurgitated plots & character archetypes, then where do you think the line is?

Do you read while you write? If you don't, why?


  1. For me it's not adopting the style but I have outright stolen lines from a novel I was reading and only realized I'd done that on the read-through of the novel after I was done it; idea/line-seep is pretty much my reason for not doing it.

    (Is line-seep a word? I guess it is now.)

    1. if pizza-popsicles can be a thing, then line-seep can be too ;)

  2. I don't get it either. I do read and write at the same time and it hasn't effected my writing, and I haven't adopted another author's style (although I do wish I could steal Maggie Stiefvater's style). I haven't heard this until recently, interesting.

  3. Actually, if I'm reading YA while writing YA, I do tend to adopt aspects of the voice of the book I'm reading, but it's always only for like three pages, and then I get back to my own voice, and then when I'm rereading it later I'm always like "what happened here? This... is not my writing." But it's always so blatantly different from my natural style that it's easy to find and fix later, so I don't actively worry about it being a problem. I actually think it's kind of nice because I learn from it.

    1. Hahahah! I kinda want to read some of your chapters now :D

  4. YES. I read while I write, but limitedly so I don't get sucked into another story. I actually find the more I read, the less influenced I am by other people's voice/style. At the same time, the easier it is to truly recognize something that stands out above the crowd, and learn from it.

    Granted, when I was younger, I was swayed by every word I read. I got in a Dickens phase, then started writing historical fiction. I read a kick-trash fantasy, and started penning out parallel worlds. I got into Dean Koontz and started writing dangerous and scary.

    Then I grew up and figured out how to write me. It's a process, eh?

    1. Certainly a process :) Yes, you are totally right about, the more influences you have, the less change of *adopting* a specific one :)

      Just like learning different drawing styles, without experimentation, you'll never find your own style :)

  5. I think my writing improves quite a bit if I read something of a similar genre/style recently, without getting so similar that it rips off what I'm reading. In order to learn how to write a genre well, you pretty much have to read it. I wanted to write some sci-fi, so I started reading Orson Scott Card's books (referring to a year or so ago).

  6. I only read at night so doesn’t interfere with my writing and I “learn” how to write from some of the books I read.

    1. ...I think it's great to learn from good books, but it's also great to learn from bad books... it's easier to find things that don't work, and recognize those in your own work ;)

      If I read at night, I end up not sleeping until I finish the book, so I will play solitaire on my phone, or sudoku, or read something short, like a comic book.

      I re-read Erin Hicks "Friends with Boys" last night, the "Nightschool" series by Svetlana Chmakova a few nights back, and the remastered, newly colourized "Courtney Crumrin" series (book 4 not out yet) by Ted Naifeh last week...

      ...we'll see what tonight brings ;) ...maybe something by Gabriel & Moon Ba?


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)