Friday, April 25, 2014

#Divergent Influences & Other #Writerprobs

I saw Divergent last night. And we will all just have to agree to put aside any thoughts like “What is a 30-year-old woman doing watching *&^% like that” and focus on the real problem:

I have a massive hangover.

The first mistake is that I watched the movie way to close to bedtime. And I don’t know how it is for most people but anything portraying lots of action and violence, etc gets my sympathetic nervous system all worked up and I turn back into that nine-year-old kid who has just watched 3 Ninjas and is leaping off all the furniture and tearing the stuffing out of all living room pillows.

So in addition the fact that I slept horribly amidst a plague of divergentesque dreams, I am finding it really hard to focus today. I’m googling things like “Maggie Q tattoo” and “Did Macklemore really play Eric?” when I should be working.

Which brings me to the purpose of today’s blog—is it bad to expose oneself to outside influences?

I can blame my massive movie hangover not on the movie itself or even the crappy sleep. I know it has to do with the fact that I have an “overactive” imagination. I know it has to do with the fact that I can make any movie “good” in my head, and often do, because I often do a great deal of character development, theme exploration, and add those “greater meanings” in my own head—even when the story’s original creator failed to actually do so--which can be a problem, because I lose a lot of time getting way to involved in someone else's creation.

So because I know I’m like this—should I limit what I expose myself to? Should I worry that it will influence or “corrupt” my own style?

Do other writers worry about this? 

This is an invitation to tell me so. Is there anything you don’t watch or read because you think it will make your own writer mind mush?  Do you have a way of curing your own book/movie hangovers or getting yourself out of someone else's sandbox?

Is there any hope for my living room pillows?


  1. There is nothing new under the sun. Understand that, and all will be well. :-)

    Reading and watching enrich the toolbox that a writer has.

    “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” -Oscar Wilde

  2. I guess I'll limit my answer to writing, but frankly it goes beyond writing. To your question: Do other writers worry about this? Yes, or at least this one does. I also find myself enjoying a lot of what I read or watch because my mind fills in gaps that the source material left undone. But that it is because I have an active imagination. This is where it goes beyond writing though: I suspect any artist feels the same. Can someone who makes sets for a living see a set in someone else's movie and not fill it with their own impressions? Do they not read books and wonder why the author didn't spend more time describing the detailed carvings over an archway? Does a graphic designer not think "I could have handled that green screen waaaay better and would have ... "

    I suspect so. It is the beauty of our minds to work this way. Most importantly, whatever the case may be, whether you're shopping at a luxury store of a yard sale, you buy what works for you and take it home... and ignore the rest.

    1. All good points. Reconnecting to the "hangover" part--I wonder if people ever feel "overwhelmed" by other people's material and that would lead them to censor or be discerning over what they expose themselves to. What do you think? Do you ever feel overwhelmed?

    2. Funny you should mention that. Wrote a blog earlier this week:

  3. I think both previous comments hit it square on the head!
    Meaning: I had many of the same words to comment, and, lo and behold, they've already been said. HA!
    Except the "overwhelmed" part. In my movie watching, I am always kind of disappointed some of the scenes are not the way my imagination sees. After all, I am only an amateur, and the movie makers are supposed to be professional, right?

  4. Excellent point, John. And there are certainly times when I'm like "wah?" LOL. However, I'm a really forgiving reader/watcher. It turns out I'll fill in all the gaps with my own insights--whether or not the person actually did the hard work ;)

  5. Speaking as a fellow writer I read a ton myself and I watch movies and tv and let them inspire me with ideas I could do in my own unique universe. I also research tons as well. So don't be afraid to be inspired by others. As far as being overwhelmed I would recommend taking a day or two to digest what is overwhelming you before trying to tackle anything then if you feel you have to put in some extra time to make up for it.

    1. I think taking a day or two is a smart idea. I think inspiration from other places is a good thing, but I should also be kind to myself and acknowledge that I might need a bit more time to overanalyze and sponge up what I read ;) Thanks for sharing! :)