I was listening to Salmon Rushdie in an interview on NPR the other day and he said something interesting about learning to become a better writer. He said that in the early years, he tried to emulate his favorite authors. But it wasn’t until he learned to write in his own style that he really felt he was a good writer.
I’d say that most writers aspire to write like those who inspire them (too many spires?), I know I do. Who doesn’t want to be the next Hunter Thompson or Ernest Hemingway? Surely those great writers who came before us were also inspired by their contemporaries and by those who came before them. Surely Shakespeare was inspired by Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe. In fact, there are many similarities in style and structure between those three writers, but they remain distinct because at some point, they found their own voice. (That is, unless you’re an Anti-Stratfordian… but that’s another story.)
The fact remains that while there are countless writing styles, and everyone has their own voice, you probably write like someone else. And you might be interested to know who.
The folks over at I Write Like have created a sophisticated statistical analysis tool that can analyzes your writing style and compare it with famous writers famous writers. Either that or it just randomly tells you that your write like someone awesome.
Apparently, I write like Chuck Palahniuk.
Well, there you have it! And I take that as a compliment, for sure. (Thanks, Algorithm!)
To test this baby out, I pasted a couple paragraphs from Kafka’s The Trial in to see what it would say. According to these guys, Kafka writes like James Joyce. Not sure I can argue with that either…
Anyway, it’s a fun tool and has got me thinking of who I’d like to emulate in my writing and who I already write like. And I wonder, have I already found my own voice?
If you’ve got a sec, you should pop on over to I Write Like, paste in a sample from a recent blog post, Dear John letter, or suicide note and then come back here to let us know in the comments who you write like!