Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw an ad “Write like Neil Gaiman” and all I could think was “I don’t WANT to write like Neil Gaiman, I want to write like ME.” And it got me thinking, what is the purpose of writing like someone else? Would mimicking their writing making my writing “better” or more “marketable” – and if it is more “marketable” is it really “better” or just more profitable? What would I rather be – more profitable or a better writer?
As I was contemplating my answers to those questions, more questions arose. If I start writing like this other, more famous than me author, where does MY voice go? Does it disappear? Does it change and become someone “not me” and I just won’t care to notice because of all the profits I am now earning?
I know I have a tendency to pick up voice and style from the books I READ. This is the self-education of writing that I love: tearing apart books on things like: style, voice, content, grammar, character arcs, and story. Learning what I can do better and what I can do worse. Applying the first to my own works, stripping the latter out of everything. Then this thought occurred to me: Does this class of “Write like Neil Gaiman” teach you how to do tear apart books with Neil Gaiman books only? How boring would that be?
I believe that as a writer it is part of MY JOB to read something I wouldn’t read, something I like to read, something I hate to read, something someone recommends to me to read, etc…. But MOST OF ALL my job is to read every day. My Goodreads bookshelf is eclectic because of my habits, although this year I am falling way short of my goal. Not because I am not reading, I am just falling asleep while reading more often than usual. (I’m thankful for the extended sleep and I’m bummed that sleeping has cut into my reading.) But, I digress. What I mean to say, is I believe I need more than one influential story and more than one author to emulate to become a better writer. So taking a class to write like one author seems too narrow for me to learn.
But, I think I am going to take part of their advice. I’m going to read a something written by Neil Gaiman and see what I can learn on my own. Who knows? I might be a better writer for it!