I think I’m going to have to develop some policy on what I read when I’m writing.

I find reading essential for writing. I usually sit and read for half an hour or so before starting to write to kick-start my linguistic imagination.

But sometimes reading the wrong thing can cause a kind of literary interference. I started reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration this week. Its a powerful piece of writing, both in style and content. Powerful enough that I really want to try out some of the techniques it employs. Consequentially when I found an hour to continue to attack this weeks word count I found myself feeling incredibly negative about the entire project, because the story I’m working on ISN’T the kind of tightly composed literary construct that I’d been reading. That’s not to say its better or worse, its just different. It took up most of the weeks writing time to work through the confusion and rediscover the things I was passionate about in the story I’m telling.

Which left me playing cath up this weekend. 1400 words today and I’m aiming to match that tommorow.

Who needs a social life anyway?

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Interference

  1. I find what you read can have an effect on what you’re writing. I have a copy of Penguin Lost on the shelf below me, because the writing is so spare and deadpan. But I’m currently reading ‘The Yiddish Policeman’s Union’ by Mchael Chabon. This is fab, and close to what I want to do – lots of details, stories – but it is so much more fantastic than I could ever hope to be it is debilitating.

    But then, I always think you should read above yourself.



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