I've been a voracious reader all my life. Words are like another food group to me. On the rare occasions I've been without a book to read, I really have resorted to reading the backs of cereal packets. In short, if I don't have some kind of reading matter, I go loco.
But--and you knew there was one of those coming, right?--when I'm in writing mode, I have to be very careful of the words I'm ingesting. I try to adhere to a strict diet of non-fiction, or genres that bear little resemblance to the world/characters I'm creating. Why?
Pollution terrifies me.
I'm one of those people who, unintentionally, picks up accents. If I'm speaking to someone with a broad Yorkshire accent, my speech mirrors theirs. If I ever met the Queen or a BBC newscaster, I'd soon be speaking with a cut-glass English accent.
In the days B.C., I worked on the phones in a GP's surgery. Put it this way, if my calls were ever recorded for 'quality and training purposes', the listener might be forgiven for thinking I'd been possessed by a legion of spirits. I just can't help it.
That's why I'm not reading much fiction at the moment. The risk of 'voice' contamination is much too high. No, I'll stick with my copy of 'Out of Africa', which is more of a memoir than a story.
How do you avoid being contaminated when you're in creative mode?