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So let’s talk about your reading requirements for a second. As a writer one of your main jobs is reading. Ask any professional it’s an important part of the job. Teachers read teaching magazines and look online to see how other teachers taught a subject. Doctors read medical journals to keep up to date on the newest research and medical procedures. You get the picture. As a writer your reading requirements are much more fun because you should read the books in your subject so you know what’s out there. For instance: if you write historical fiction you should read historical fiction; if you write contemporary fiction, read contemporary fiction; if you write horror, read horror. Again picture had.

So you’re doing that. You’ve been doing that. You’ve read so-and-so’s story that inspired you to write in the first place. That’s great. That’s wonderful. That’s exactly what I want to talk about.

As beginning writers it is natural to mimic the writers/stories that inspire us to write. Firstly, I want to say that this is a good first step, a needed first step, in the process to becoming a writer. We mimic to become. As humans it’s what we do.

However, eventually you have to step away from that and actually become.

Recently, in my writing group a fellow writer turned in a couple stories that clearly had been influenced by H. P. Lovecraft. I was more than a bit excited to see them since I too am influenced by Lovecraft. Unfortunately they were so influenced by Lovecraft that I might as well have been reading Lovecraft. I knew the stories weren’t written by Lovecraft, obviously, but the writer’s voice who did write them was nowhere to be found.

That is the downside to mimicry: you don’t get to be you. If I’m, or anyone, is reading a story that you wrote it’s because we want to hear the story you’re telling. It’s your take on the story, your insight, the outlook of the world that only you can provide.

So just keep that in mind as you continue to write. Mimicry is a part of becoming a writer, but only until you wings fully develop, only until you find your sea legs, only until you have the basics. Then the hard part comes, and you have to write as you.

Be you, be well; write you, write well.

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