I look at writing in two ways: as a science and as an art. If you approach it scientifically, you are likely to communicate more effectively. At the same time, you must balance that with the subtle flourishes that distinguish any great voice. And, like any art form, I believe writing takes practice. The more you do it, the more likely you’ll become better at it. You’ll “find your voice” and hone your style. I equate writing with painting. A painter begins with an empty canvas, a writer with a blank piece of paper. Where either artist fills in the blanks is only limited by their own imaginations. E.L. Doctorow is credited with saying (and I may be paraphrasing): “Writing is like driving in the dark. You can only see as far as the headlights. But you make the whole trip that way.”
Every time I read a great piece of literature, I am simultaneously intimidated and motivated. Intimidated because I’m aware of my own limitations and shortcomings as a writer. And I’m motivated to overcome those limitations and shortcomings. My influences are too wide-ranging, diverse and lengthy to list here. But the writers who have the profoundest effect on me are the ones that motivate me to overcome the worst of my insecurities as a writer. I am astonished by the way great writers manipulate language and use words to weave a tapestry of emotions or evoke time and place. And I aspire to do just that.