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Why You Should Use a #Dictionary – David Foster Wallace

who do you write like image

I was reading some of my favorite blog posts the other day, and while I was at Marjorie Mallon’s blog, I noticed a badge on her sidebar which had caught my attention. It read “I write like . . .Stephen King”. Underneath it, there was a link to click to analyze your own writing to see who you write like. Of course I was curious, and I clicked on the link.


Once on the site, you are asked to copy and paste a paragraph or two of your own writing for analysis. I entered two paragraphs from my book, Words We Carry,  and I was informed that my writing is similar to that of David Foster Wallace. Then a box pops up with code in it to paste it to your own blog sidebar, saying, “I write like . . .”. (See it here on my sidebar to the right.)


I was humbled and proud for my writing to be likened to Wallace’s writing. Albeit, I didn’t know much about him prior to receiving my likeness analysis, but I was thrilled to at least be compared to a famous writer, and made a note to look into his works the next day.


As serendipity would have it, the next day I opened my email and received my weekly newsletter I subscribe to from , a fantastic newsletter on everything about famous writers, by Maria Popova. The headline article of the day was on, who else, but David Foster Wallace!!!


You can read the article below, written by Maria Popova.


David Foster Wallace on Why You Should Use a Dictionary, How to Write a Great Opener, and the Measure of Good Writing

After reading the article above, I began googling Wallace to learn more about him.


Courtesy of :  I learned this about him:


Born February 21, 1962 in Claremont, California, Wallace was a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and a college professor of English and creative writing. The genres he wrote in were literary fiction and nonfiction. He died by suicide, September 12, 2008, age 46.

His last unfinished novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011 and became a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer prize for fiction.

The L.A. times book editor, David Ulin called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years”. 


Wallace struggled with drugs, alcohol, and depression. Apparently, he had stopped taking his medication for depression which had kept him productive for more than 20 years. Because of unpleasant side-effects he was suffering from the meds, he weaned off them. When he went back on them after depression set back in, they apparently had lost their effectiveness for him. He committed suicide by hanging himself from a rafter in his garage.


It seems like an all too familiar tragedy, ending yet another life of a creative genius. Wallace’s story serves to remind us of just how lethal depression can be.


I was more than elated to have my writing compared to Wallace’s. And it was an interesting experience to learn more about him.

To read a more detailed biography of Wallace, click the link below:


Now, the question remains . . . WHO DO YOU WRITE LIKE?



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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • teagan geneviene

    Well done, Debby. Those “you write like” sites are so fun. I was playing with one a couple of years ago. Every time I gave it a new bit of writing, it told me I was a different writer. (I’d hate for a professional to analyze that!) 😀 But at least I liked them! LOL. I was flattered when it gave me Jane Austen twice though. 😉

    • dgkaye

      You’re right Teag. It’s a fun exercise, and naturally, everyone has his/her own writing style, but a rough comparison in a category is fun to try. How stoked you must have been, Jane Austin! Well, I can see how that was chosen for you!
      I just thought it would be interesting, plus the fact I got to share Wallace’s sad story, and don’t forget about the dictioary! xo <3

  • Juana

    How sad to hear how he died.

    That was a neat little exercise. I’d never heard of him until now. I went to the site you mentioned and I put my own writing in from both my blogs. From Rubies and Sagebrush, I got Dan Brown, whose writing I really liked in both the books I read. For Bringing Back the Rubies, I got the same result you did! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for reading J. That’s interesting, my spiritual friend Sue here got Dan Brown also, so there must be a theme right? As for your other blog, it’s real, it’s nonfiction, and once again they tied you in with a Wallace type of writer. I’m glad you enjoyed the tryout! 🙂 <3

  • marianbeaman

    Thanks for the link. My, word, I came up as Vladimir Nabokov, probably because I posted a few paragraphs from my memoir draft. You have sharp eyes, Debby. I often skip over side bar info, but not you!

    • dgkaye

      That’s wonderful Marian! Isn’t it inspiring? And lol, my eyes are good with strong prescriptions. It’s my sharp curiosity that has me snooping around for info. 🙂 <3

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Such a tragic story of Wallace.. but what an interesting thing to test who you write like I may well try it just for the fun of it.. 🙂 Oh and by the way, I am always using Spell checker LOL.. and still can get them wrong 😉

  • mindfulaide

    I tried the “Who do you Write like?” link and I got Arthur Clarke!! Absolutely an honour and I’m amazed that it says I write like one of my favourite authors 🙂

  • Hugh's Views and News

    I had a go with that link, Debby and added my “Rusty” story to i. It came up with a recipe for flaky pastry and I was rather surprised as I’d never heard of that author. Then I realised I’d hit another tab while grabbing my coffee, so I went back and got, James Joyce. Wow. I was very impressed with that. When I added my short story ‘Lipstick’ in, I got Chuck Palahniuk. I think that site is telling me that I have a spilt personality? I hope not 🙂

    • dgkaye

      First of all, LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL you crack me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leave it to you to find ‘flaky pastry’!! And as for the likenesses, I believe because you’re stories are all different and so inventive, they send out a different connotation with every entry. Of course this is fun, but it’s a nice feeling to be likened to some of the greats! I’ve had quite a few memoir writers put their work in and all get the same author too. I thought it would be interesting to try, and then I became more than curious to want to learn more about the writer I was likened to. Now, I must go investigate this author I’ve never heard of before . . . .Flaky Pastry! LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL xo <3

  • Hugh's Views and News

    I hope he/she is a best seller. I believe he/she can be found on the kitchen shelves of many households. 🙂
    I agree, my stories are developing. Whereas they were all about time travel and sic-fi, they seem to be branching off now. Thank goodness I never got a name like Yolanda Squartpump. Oooh! Maybe that’s a great name for new character? 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Lmao, you beat me to the punch. I was going to suggest that you now have material to write about 2 new great writers – Flaky Pastry and Yolanda Squartpump. You crack me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 xo

  • adeleulnais

    There is no such thing as coincidence. It lead you to read more about Wallace and pass his story on to us. I`m going to try it and will let you know who I write like. lol a bit nervous but excited.

  • John Maberry

    Sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s mostly a novelty item. If you try different paragraphs from even the same piece you will get wildly different results. More so from different pieces. It’s still fun though.

  • Sherri

    What a fascinating post Debby. I only recently discovered that David Foster Wallace was married to Mary Karr. I didn’t know anything about him either until she mentioned him and what a highly respected and gifted writer he was. I’m not surprised you got the same! But a very sad story, as you say, one we hear too often. Depression is just awful…

    I tried it and for the first test, taken from a short memoir piece I wrote for a competition last year (got long listed for that), I got Stephen King! But when I put in a few paragraphs from my memoir book, I got Margaret Attwood. Both thrilled me no end, but so different! Thanks for the links and interesting info on DFW, I went over and read his article xo

  • Carol Balawyder

    What an interesting post, Debby and thanks for serendipitously leading us to a new writer. I checked Wallace’s books on Amazon. He writes essays, like you, and is thought to be funny and original. Again like you. So, I can see the similarities.
    He’s on my TBR list.
    Hope you’re enjoying Arizona! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Carol! Thanks so much for your kind words as always! And I just learned another tidbit of info about Wallace, from my friend Sherri here, she informed me that he was married to Mary Karr! Isn’t it just a wonderful world of coincidences?
      He’s now on my TBR list too!
      Arizona is so beautiful Carol. The first 2 weeks we had awful weather as El Nino was flooding California and it blew over to Arizona, leaving us cold temps and lots of rain, and snow to the north (Sedona). The sun finally came back this week. Grateful for tender mercies. 🙂

  • Deborah Jay

    Well I enjoyed having a go: apparently I write like Anne Rice – how cool is that? Not that I’ve interviewed any vampires recently, but you never know what’s around the corner 😉
    Thanks for sharing, I love it!

    • dgkaye

      That’s awesome Deb! Glad you took the plunge. Now be sure to stick the badge on your page! What a great comparison. Maybe it’s fantasy vampire time for you? LOL 🙂

      • Deborah Jay

        I put the badge up already, though it won’t fit neatly in the margins of my blog theme, and I’m not html savvy enough to play with it.
        Ah well, what’s a little untidiness? Oh, wait – I really like things to be neat, it’s my tendency to OCD 😉
        Was chuffed to get such an appropriate match, though 😀

        • dgkaye

          Lol, I hear you on being OCD. Glad you put it up? Or did you? I’m not html savvy either, however it landed is where mine stayed. You have to admit, it looks good! 🙂

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    I remember doing this exercise I think a few years back, it may well have been through your own link Debby, but for the life of me I can not remember now who I wrote like. lol..
    Going back to Wallace, It is tragic that so many suffer this disease, and from first hand understanding how deep depression can hold you in its grip its a hard up hill battle.. Sadly we hear so many who didn’t make it.

    Love and special thoughts your way Debby..
    Love and Hugs your way <3

    • dgkaye

      So much truth Sue. It is astounding the amount of writers who suffer with depression. I do believe us creatives are highly sensitive people, which of course opens the door for depression. Stay in the light my friend, but remain buckled up! <3 <3 xxx

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Just checked my writing style again Debby and big smiles I got.. I write Like Bram Stoker! 🙂 I did it twice with different excerpts from pieces I wrote, lol.. 😀 Maybe I need some Garlic! LOL 🙂

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