I’m struck by how writing mimics other parts of life. I see corollary’s between diet, exercise and writing. Or any pursuit requiring direction and practice.
It’s hard to ignore “good advice” for diet and fitness while not locked into a rigorous approach. For example, if I’m not following a defined program (what I used to do when training for triathlons), it’s easy to be distracted by “good advice.” For the last few years, I’ve adhered to a program of Z2 / Z5 cardio augmented by 3 days of lifting. But, it’s not a strict adherence. When I see different advice, like do HIIT 2-3x per week and nothing else… it tempts me to dip my toes into competing methodologies. And success in fitness needs consistency. Jumping between approaches based on the latest fad or advice is the opposite of consistent.
Same with diet. I’ve followed three major approaches long enough to have success with each: Paleo (for triathletes), Slow-Carb and whole-food-plant-based. Each restricts a type of food (potatoes, bread, dairy, etc) and demands strict, consistent adherence to the rules. Following parts of two different approaches won’t work; can’t eat Keto for breakfast (high fat, no carb) and something Mediterranean or whole food plant-based for dinner (high veg, high carb, low fat) and expect results.
Writing has the same pitfalls. As an avid reader, I come across so many enjoyable styles and genres. Stories without dialogue, with only dialogue, with long ruminations or no outward emotion. Stories with magic, with adventure, with no real action or movement, with sub-plots and sub-texts or everything at the surface. Non-fiction essays, slow reveals, lush or plain language. Without a defined approach… a fully bought in, Slow-Carb diet with rules and boundaries and a clear sense of what to pay attention to and emulate and what to ignore, I fall prey to flitting from style to style, sometimes in the same story. Worse, doubting my instincts for how to write.
Success and expectations are the only way out. If any piece gained traction with an audience, I’d be confident about the style of writing. Or, just keep writing and let these influences nibble away and maybe a unique voice emerges.