Sms.....yeah, "to be" functions a few different ways in language. some ways lead more to absolutes and abstractions, while others mostly imply tense ("i'm twitching" - although, did you twitch as you wrote it? you could say "my legs and arms just twitched, or keep twitching, or twitched several times, i twitch(ed) as i wrote, etc. - basically, more verb and action oriented, more descriptive). so i've tried mostly to eliminate the former. i read an article on this which went into a lot of detail about it....i'll see if i can find it and post it here.
mainly, i like that i tend to slow down when i write this way and think more deeply about what i want to say, even if i still use "to be" here and there....when speaking in eprime, i really need to slow down (which helps if you don't want to say things like "that's so stupid!").
so i look at it like not so much as a rule, but as a way to more creatively and descriptively say what i see, sense, think, feel......as a way to slow down or unscramble certain patterns that i think don't serve me well, and to not turn my perceptions into "what is".
okay, your sentence "i was influenced by the idea of eprime".....you could say:
- the idea of eprime influenced me (and you could add how, in what ways, and why it influenced you)
- i feel influenced by the idea of eprime
- after hearing about the idea of eprime, i gave more thought to how i write and speak.
- last week i heard about eprime, and it influenced my writing.
edit: i just noticed you probably meant in reference to your sentence in your answer. in that case you could have written "no doubt the idea of eprime influenced me", or "no doubt i felt the influence of the idea of eprime" (although that sounds a little clunkier to me).
edit: (removed the stuff about "she's a student"....it felt unnecessary later)
like anything else, if i try to eliminate "to be" as an absolute rule, i can feel restricted or frustrated....so i try to keep in mind that i choose to use it as a tool to help me communicate clearly and creatively and contextually......increasing my awareness of when it helps toward that end, or not.