I only started writing as an adult, and having read very little up until that point. Once I did start writing, I looked around for people I could emulate/rip off, and the thing you realize right away, as a black male writer looking for other black male writers (nullus), is that black guys don't write. When they do, it's not very well publicized, which I'm sure is part of the reason they don't.
I went to school for business, which typically means you don't have to read or write much of anything, but this was a fairly writing-intensive program. We were taught/ordered to emulate articles in Harvard Business Review, especially by a guy named Michael Porter, to the point where if you submitted them to a publication you would rightly be accused of plagiarism. But that was the whole point. If you attempted to get creative and/or informal with it, you'd get a bad grade.
While I was in college I read The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast. I was already writing on the Internets at that point, but I had no idea that it was something I would continue to do well into my adulthood, semi-professionally. But once I did start writing, that was the kind of writing I attempted to emulate. I drew on it a lot when I was writing for XXL, and I always thought one day I would write a similar book. I toyed with the idea in the late '00s, but I never seriously pursued it, and it wasn't until a while after I left XXL that I set out to write my first book, at which point I had a pretty strong handle on what I was doing.