A few weeks ago I began my mammoth end-of-university project – catching up on Game of Thrones. I’ve been meaning to both read the books and watch all four seasons (and counting!) of the HBO series for years now, but there was just never quite enough breathing space. Now, I have a whole summer of inactivity to look forward to.
Reading, alongside actually writing, has always been the most important activity for any author, but there is a certain degree of danger involved in immersing yourself fully in another writer’s work. Especially for the impressionable (I prefer “easily inspired”) folks out there, like me. Caught up in the splendor of George R. R. Martin’s characters and settings, it is deceptively easy to wake up one morning and say “hey, I want to write fantasy!”
Yes folks, inspiration is every bit the two-edged sword. Of late I’ve been experiencing a craving for swords and castles and all sorts of medieval political skulduggery. I wonder where on earth all that could have come from? It’s certainly a far cry from the Urban Fantasy I’m currently preparing to launch into 3rd draft mode. As much as I love inspiration, it really isn’t proving conducive right now, because it’s being channeled in the wrong direction. I already have a fantasy story, dang it!
That’s the thing with the copycat urge that so often surfaces when inspired by someone else’s characters, plot and setting – it can so easily derail our existing projects. It takes a bit of willpower to get through it and apply what your learning from your reading to what you’re currently working on, rather than just chuck everything in and starting afresh. Do not surrender to such temptation! I guarantee that not long after you finish up whatever it was that was inspiring you, the urge to continue the copycat project will quickly taper out, leaving you high and dry.
And if you really can’t help yourself, by all means, vent that creativity by writing some fan fiction! I’ve actually started treating the origin story of the disgustingly villainous Kurt Tanner from Game of Thrones as a late-night “reward” for a good day’s redrafting. Try it out – you won’t be disappointed.