Every writer has influences. But when you ask writers who their main influences are, they tend to stick with a field of other writers.
I have those too -- Tom Junod, Tim O'Brien, Shirley Jackson, Brian Hodge, Lee Child, Ann Hull, Dean Koontz, Tom Langewiesche. All of them influence my mechanics, my language, my writing style, and my approach to subject.
But let's broaden the reach here. Let's talk about some influences who are not manuscript writers. And before I forget to ask, please tell me some of your non-writer influences. I'd love to know who has helped make you who you are as a writer.
David Bowie (Daring): David Bentley, a biographer who actually received his doctorate in David Bowie (seriously), once write that it was almost impossible to be indifferent toward Bowie. Between 1970 and 1980, I agree. Bowie's penchant for pushing buttons, inventing trends, and taking chances made him as much idol as target. He consistently did one thing you simply don't see often enough -- he cultivated fans, then changed his game. And you either came with him or you didn't. How he influences my writing: Bowie made no apologies for his work. And he didn't explain it. I don't either. How you react to it is entirely up to you.
Tony Schwartz (Saying without Saying) Tony Schwartz made his mark in radio advertising by reworking saturated ad slogans so that the listener would have to finish the thought. In short, Schwartz engaged listeners in a way no one had thought of before. And his guiding principle is one of my favorite sayings: People are born without earlids. Think about it ... How he influences my writing: Tony Schwartz was a master of messages that seemed to be overt, but really weren't. His campaigns for Coca-Cola had people racing for a frosty bottle, yet they never once used the word "Coke." Sometimes the most powerful statement is one the writer never ...
Albert Einstein (Tenacity): If I were half as smart as Einstein, I'd still be twice as smart as I am now. But I draw a lot of inspiration from something Einstein said: I'm not so smart, I just stick with problems longer. I disagree with the first half of that, Dr. Einstein, but I'm deeply influenced in my writing life by the second. How he influences my writing: Albert Einstein believed that there was an answer to everything. We just might not be ready to see it. But we will. Just get to work and stay working and it'll come around.
Winston Churchill (Succinctness): Churchill said very little in his public speeches. But when he opened his mouth things like "Never, never, never give up" came out. How he influences my writing: Brevity.
Louis (Joyous Abandon): If you've seen my book trailer for Character Development, you've seen my cat, Louis. He's the white-and-gray tabby. Louis at play is a joy. Whatever he does, he throws himself completely into, and fuck the consequences. It's life lived at the jugular, and it's intoxicating. How he influences my writing: By reminding me what to do with the consequences.