My reading habits have changed dramatically since I started writing.

I have a tendency to absorb the rhythm and tone of whatever I’m reading, and unconsciously mimic it in my writing–and since I write almost every day, I have to be careful what I read.

Scrape and I recently visited Key West, and I downloaded some Hemingway to my Sony e-reader in preparation for visiting his home there. Bad idea! I couldn’t put together a really fluid sentence for days. A week later, I courted disaster by reading a chapter or two of Henry James–and immediately began spewing clause-ridden sentences that provided shelter for every homeless comma in the English language.

On the other hand, my mockingbird mind can be helpful, too. When a writing session stalls, or my words just aren’t coming freely, I take a break and read for a while, selecting something that fits the tone I’m trying to achieve–usually something light, like Janet Evanovich or Lawrence Block. Their rhythms and cadences somehow refresh my mind, and remind me that writing is actually fun.

Today I realized I’d reached a sort of authorial milestone. Instead of turning to other writers for this kind of inspiration, I’m now able to simply jump to another file on my computer and read something I’ve written myself–bits and pieces of finished works, or works in progress that put me in the mood I’m looking for.

I inspire myself. How cool is that?!?!?