How to be inspired by other writers without losing your own voice. Writing advice for readers.
I’ll be writing about the video How to be inspired by other writers without losing your own voice. Writing advice for readers, from the writing advice series I’m doing on YouTube with Jonathan McKinney.
We were asked a question on Instagram by @Sarah_C100 who wanted to know how, if you’re a reader who loves certain writers and is heavily inspired by them, how do you prevent those writers influencing your work so heavily you lose your own unique voice.
Being inspired by other writers can be a very positive thing. We can learn from their work and embrace it, and incorporate certain techniques and tools that make their work great into our own writing, but it’s important to maintain your own personal style as well.
The first thing to say is that if you’re so heavily inspired by other writers that you’re ripping them off or plagiarising them, then you can get in a lot of trouble. It’s very important that you do not directly copy, either by accident or intentionally, the work of other writers.
If you are worried that you might be accidentally copying the work of another author, the first job you need to do is get a good proofreader. An experienced proofreader is likely to pick up on any accidental plagiarising, but if the author you’re possible ripping off is somebody quite niche, it’s worth finding someone within that specific fandom who is an expert on their particularly work, who can read your book with that lense on it. I have worked for years with proofreader Steph Warren, and she takes on new people regularly so she comes with my recommendation.
If you’re focusing on one writer at a time, or heavily focusing on a single writer who influences you, then an important thing to do would be to branch out. Widen your reading and possibly read more than one book at a time on a rotation. If you’re automatically reflecting one writer’s style because you’re so intrenched in their work, then forcing variety into your reading will help you free yourself from it and you’re less likely to subconsciously copy their work.
Another option is to focus less heavily on prose. When you start writing, for your first draft, write the absolute bare bones of your story. A lot of the style goes into the poeticism and style of the prose, so if you break it down to essentially a script with just what the characters say and where they go, you’ll have a complete and unique story without copying anybody’s style. Then, when you’ve got a completed first draft, you go in and edit, developing the prose around what already exists. That way, you cannot literally copy what somebody else has written because your story is entirely unique to you. Nobody else has written these characters before, so therefore nobody else has written prose about these characters before.
I’m in the process of adapting a film I wrote, What Ivy Wants, into a book. I’ve got the words and the plot, and I’m going in and developing the character’s interiority, descriptions of the environment and actions, and growing the scenes from the bare bones that the script offered because so much of a script is in the visuals not the words. It’s actually a really satisfying process and having a complete story that’s quite plain to breathe life into in this style is so different to anything I’ve done before.
You can find more writing advice on our YouTube channel where we’ll be releasing a piece of writing advice every day to help you become a better and more confident writer. If you have any writing questions, comment below and we will try to do a video for every question we get!