Recently I read a fabulous book. It pulled me in, and I couldn’t stop. Why? Because everything was written as it should be. I fell for the characters. The setting dazzled me. The book was a typical 300+ page length, but felt altogether too short because I wanted to live with these characters forever.
As a writer, there are two options after reading an incredibly moving story–the type of story you want to write yourself. You either A) fall into the pit of despair because you’ll never write that well, or B) you study the passages that meant the most to you and figure out how the author so successfully captured your heart.
Let me tell you–and I’m sure many writers would agree–that stumbling into Option A is the easiest one. And honestly, I think it’s natural to have a few moments like this. You’re in awe of someone else’s creation. It’s the type of creation you’ve longed to dream up and execute even half as well as this author. You want to touch your audiences so much that when this author touched your heart, you immediately wondered how he/she did it. I get all that. I’ve been there (especially with this most recent book). But in the end, it’s not healthy to linger in Option A for long.
For one, you won’t accomplish anything. You’ll dream of your writing reaching its potential, but you won’t have written. For another, you’ll remain discontent with your own writing–which, of course, takes the fun out of your craft. Stepping into Option B and beyond will help you accomplish your goals and grow to love your own writing. Learn from the author to see what he/she does that touches you so. Why did that particular scene work? That romance sizzle? The line cause you to tear up? Study it! Try it in your own story.
Lastly, I believe we’ve all been given our own talents. No one can tell your story the way you can, because your experiences/past/thoughts are unique. So, if you think of it that way, then OF COURSE you won’t ever write like your favorite author. You’re NOT your favorite author, and he’s/she’s not you. You were meant to write to the best of YOUR abilities, not anyone else’s. And believe me, as you strive to reach that particular potential, you’ll fall in love with your writing again and you’ll find your own ways to touch readers.