Updated: Mar 6
Have you ever dreamt a song? Lyrics or perhaps a melody? Were you able to remember it once you opened your eyes? Could you reproduce it? What about words? Have you dreamt sentences or writing ideas or a feeling you felt you were supposed to transfer to paper as soon as you wake up? Where do you think those came from? (By the way, never believe the lie that you will remember it in the morning. You won’t. Whatever you dream is limited to that moment only, so better to jump out of bed than face fogy thoughts later)
Human brain is a miraculous machine. Conscious part of our mind deals with 50 bits of information per second, yet it can never work at 100 %. It can never “fill” the necessary space for information storing either.
Everything you’ve ever experienced, seen, heard or every person you met will probably be stored in your “personal computer” in your head.
When you think all the info will resurface? While you sleep. Since you have embarked on a journey of writing, I will presume you also love reading. While you read your brain stores every minute detail of the words your eyes see. It can happen that “new” ideas for your manuscript pop up while you’re dreaming. It’s important to know that at this day and age there are no “new” ideas anymore. Mostly everything has been said already, your mind can only reshape it and resay it in a new way.
Hence everything you ever read will affect what you want to write. But should you read while you are creating your own work and let it affect your style?
Some people do. Some intentionally let other’s work affect their own. Some authors even try to “copy” others. Considered by many, it might not be the best approach. Every author should bring their own style into the variety of available books. But have in mind, it might bother you. In some moments, it might feel as if someone else is placing the words on paper, and not you.
You might get lost in looking for stylistic inspiration in other books, which can result in your book becoming a sort of a mash-up of styles, and they could collide. You could subconsciously pick up other writer’s emotions on a specific topic and reflect it in your own manuscript. Have in mind that a careful reader might notice “gaps” in your style, inconsistencies which you missed.
Others sustain. For those authors, it’s the norm – they read and feed their mind while they’re not creating. Once they start, all else stays behind, and it’s just them and their expression of emotions. They can go back on their own paragraphs and reread them in order to see the feeling they wanted to wake up in the reader.
This way of writing can result in a “tighter” and unified style that readers will flow through and enjoy.
I belong to the second category. I don’t like when people see my novel and say it looks and feels similar to another, though it did happen that what I wrote feels like some of the writers I read in my “time off” and respect immensely.
Poems are a different category. I love looking for inspiration in Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. His way of waking up synesthesia in a reader has always been fascinating to me. But by no means do I aim to copy him or any other author while writing poetry.
Could be because novels are “my thing” and I don’t write poems for bigger audience, but I do no over-stress about how similar my poems are to others.
If by any chance you saw this article while writing academic work or a scientific paper, please do look for inspiration in any way you want. Also if you decide you use anyone’s words, quote them or paraphrase correctly.
There could be numerous reasons authors decide to take one path or the other. What did you do while you were creating your first novel/poem? What do you do now?
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