The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog

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Experiencing Reading ADHD May be Good for Your Writing.


I used to be a one-book kinda gal. (Not to be confused with Hickenlooper’s One Book, One Denver program).  Whatever book I was reading, that was it. I stayed with it until the end, never straying into the pages  of another writer’s work. Even the occasional magazine article made me feel guilty if I was in the middle of a novel; like I was somehow cheating on the narrative by diverting my attention elsewhere. And it had a noticeable effect on my writing. I started to sound like whatever author I happened to be reading at the time. Kent Haruf gives the narrative voice in my head a slow country drawl, Margaret Atwood turns me into a sinister fabulist, and Michael Chabon gives all my characters otherworldly smarts and quirky charm. I went through a phase of reading every Lorrie Moore story I could get my hands on, and noticed a dramatic increase in my use of parentheses. All of this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am human; I learn by example–monkey see, monkey do, as it goes. My love for writing comes from my love of reading. And after all, if we can’t learn from the Greats, whom can we learn from? But in the last several months, my one-book-at-a-time rule has fallen by the wayside, and I’ve found myself entrenched in as many as seven books all at once. Jon Krakauer has fought for space in my head with Steinbeck, Anne Enright, Chinua Achebe, Charles D’Ambrosio and Robert Heinlein, on any given day. Not to mention the gazillions of short story anthologies I own and pick up on a whim, New Yorker and Sun articles, and whatever internet web news happens to catch my easily-distracted-and-highly- prone-to-procrastination eye (Kanye did what?) It’s a writerly cacophony, and  it has made a marked difference on my writing. With all those writers’ voices drowning each other out, there seems to finally be room in my head for my own voice to develop, and rather than any one voice strongly influencing my writing, they seem to be working in harmony to support a (hopefully) new and unique style all my own.

One comment on “Experiencing Reading ADHD May be Good for Your Writing.

  1. andreadupree
    September 17, 2009

    This promiscuous reading tendency is one that I share at times. Right now. And yes, Kanye did that! It’s all so crazy, this writing habit and its attendant afflictions, isn’t it?

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This entry was posted on September 16, 2009 by in Good Books, The Write Idea.

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