When I first started writing, I was very afraid that I would lose my voice (the one in my writing). I would write half a novel, maybe even three-quarters of one, and then I would read a book with a strong voice in it and it would alter mine, leaving the rest of my book inconsistent. I’ve read about other writers having a similar concern, and I can understand why. After reading 300-400pg novel with a strong voice over several days, I usually start to think with a different beat, inserting words that were used a lot in the book. It’s most obvious with older books, especially when I start saying “thus” out loud.
(Now, some of you might argue that what I’m describing isn’t exactly what voice is, and since it’s such a slippery topic, you’re right. Voice is much more than that. Come back Friday for a post discussing voice. However, I did not understand this at the time so I was worried.)
My solution was—avoid reading books. Now, I love reading, so this wasn’t a good solution for me at all. It lasted for almost half a year while I wrote my first draft, but eventually I had to read. I missed it too much. So I went ahead and dug into a book, and it was great to read again. The next day I approached my draft, wrote a few pages, and my writing wasn’t really that altered. My voice was still there! Some of the word choices were affected by what I had just read, but that was okay. In fact, writing was easier than usual. The words flowed better and I wrote faster. Reading helps you write! This is probably old news to a lot of you, but for me at the time it was a pretty big discovery. Sure, I had read books that told you to read a lot if you want to be a writer and that it will help you with your writing, but I never really grasped the extent of what they meant till that morning.
How about you? What surprises have you had on your writing journey (or with other learning experiences)? Did you have any fears that turned out not to be necessary?
Note: Great giveaway over at Seeing Creative, Stina Lindenblatt’s blog. She’s celebrating reaching 500 followers and the prizes include Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook as well as first chapter critiques!