Why am I imitating authors I admire?

agatha christie

Dear Literary Ladies,
Perhaps because I haven’t learned to trust my own voice, I sometimes find after I’ve written something, that it’s almost an homage to a writer I admire, and not very well done at that. Judging from my writers’ group, I know I’m not alone in this unconscious copying, but will I ever stop?

When you begin to write, you are usually in the throes of admiration for some writer, and whether you will or no, you cannot help copying their style. Often it is not a style that suits you, and so you write badly. But as time goes on you are less influenced by admiration.

You still admire certain writers, you may even wish you could write like them, but you know quite well that you can’t. Presumably you have learned literary humility.

If I could write like Elizabeth Bowen, Muriel Spark, or Graham Green, I should jump to high heaven with delight, but I know that I can’t and it would never occur to me to attempt to copy them.

Agatha ChristieAn Autobiography, 1977

More writing advice from Agatha Christie

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Agatha Christie Stamp 125th anniversary Republique Centrafricaine


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