Monday, September 10, 2018

Losing Your Voice

Back in 2004 when I first started writing seriously, I learned I couldn't read while I was writing.  Everything I read inserted it's voice in place of my own.  Fiction... non-fiction... it didn't matter.  If it had a voice, it was overriding my own.

So, I stopped reading.  At least while I was working on my own manuscripts.  And I'm talking years here.  I'd be surprised if I read a dozen books a year 2004-2006.

Slowly, over time, my own voice got strong enough that it could drown those other voices out.  But still, I couldn't read books of the same genre I was writing.  No suspense during, say, Dying Embers.  No paranormal anything during Wish in One Hand. 

Then I reached a point where it didn't really matter.  Yay.  I could read anything while writing anything. 

Until last week, when I read a book with such a strong voice, my own ran yipping into the barn.  I sat down to work on Ugly and the Beast, and suddenly it wasn't my voice spilling out onto the page, it was hers.  (Not that her voice wasn't awesome, but I kinda like my own, thank you very much.) 

Oh, it didn't take as long as it used to for me to get my own voice back.  Once I realized what was happening, I wiped that other voice out and got back to being me. 

So, when you hear someone saying they don't read when they write, don't be too hard on them.  They might be protecting their voice until it gets strong enough to stand on its own.  And if you find yourself unable to read while you're writing, don't be too hard on yourself.  Protect the writing.  Protect your own special, unique voice.  You can read after the new words are on the page. 

If you're a reader, have you read a book where the voice sounded almost exactly like another writer's?  If you're a writer, have you ever had to protect your voice? Or is it just me?


  1. Like you, years ago I stopped reading while I was writing, and for the same reasons.

    Right now, I need to stop reading, just because I'M NOT WRITING! But not until I finish this book... Thank goodness it's the last in the series. ;-)

  2. I normally don't read the genre I'm writing at the time. Good thing I write across the board, huh? ;) Also, way back in the bad ol' days, I not only didn't have a voice, I didn't write. A good friend challenged to me write fan fiction, using the voice of the author that fiction I fanned over. Strange thing. It worked. I did fan fiction based on three authors. Two were pretty darn close, the third? I discovered I didn't enjoy her voice all that much nor did I like the way the series was going so I stopped reading her. Anyway, through those exercises and about six months, I found my voice. I found my inspiration. And I found I really wanted to write for real.

    So no, it's not just you. :)

    PS: I like your voice. You know, in case you didn't know that. :D