I try really hard to read well written novels to soak up the goodness. When I come across one I don't think is well written, I think through what bothers me and make a mental note. I'm learning and I'm soaking it up trying not to give myself a complex about all the great work out there.
But, the other day a character trait popped up in my own protagonist that I had read recently in another novel. Randomly. And some part of my brain jumped up and down and said - Yes! this is good. It wasn't at all how my character should be acting.
Oh. My. God. I did not just do that?
Holy crapola, I did.
Holy crapola, I did.
Thankfully, I realized it and shuddered while deleting the whole darn scene.
I've immersed myself in the YA book world almost exclusively (although the adult novel slips in now and then), because when I read adult work, my protag's voice drifts. It takes me a few thousand words to find it. But, now I'm afraid that by reading other YA work while I'm writing, I might be unconsciously incorporating ideas I've read elsewhere in my own book. Just call me Authorus Copy-ous Cat-icus.
So, I considered cutting myself off from books while I'm writing. Like Lady Gaga without the egg. And the costumes and the bajillion dollars. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
I clearly can't read adult novels, and now I can't read teen ones either? What about TV? Should I stop watching Vampire Diaries - or heaven forbid - One Tree Hill? That sucks! Not One Tree Hill (don't judge), but the fact that I wouldn't get my story fix from anything but my own addled brain.
And then I started reading this writing craft book and realized that my problem might not be that I read while I'm writing. (Hallelujah). My problem is that WHAT I'm writing isn't fully formed enough for me to write it without dumping in a whole bunch of other crap. My characters aren't fully formed, and their journey (otherwise known as THE PLOT), is still up in the air for me. I'll confess, I'm a little lost in my novel. I think my pantster ways have finally gotten the better of me.
I'm on the right track now and working to get all the soft spots in my novel firmed up. I'm also pleased to report that I won't be going through story withdrawl anytime soon.
What I'm wondering is, has this happened to you? Do you find your story drifting into another author's territory without even realizing it? Do you read while you write? Is it the same genre?