How to Develop Your Writing Style
If you wish to write professionally, you’ll have to develop your own unique writing style.
Writing for a living or just for your own personal satisfaction is a combination of talent and craft. These are two different concepts, of course – talent and craft are not necessarily the same thing. You can be born with a natural talent for something, but craft is about acquiring skills and experience that allow you to exceed the natural abilities you were born with.
For example, you might be born with a talent for woodworking. At an early age you have an instinctual understanding of how wood functions as a material and how the blade can cut and shape. For all that talent, you won’t be able to build a chair until you learn something about the craft: About building joints and cutting mitre angles, about glues and dowels and every other aspect of the craft. It’s the same for writing: You can be born with an ear for language (much like a translation services pro), but you still have to learn proper grammar to be able to write well – and even then you have to develop your own style.
On one level, everyone understands what we mean by the word ‘style’ when it comes to writing – the ‘voice’ that you use, the quirks of language and grammar. What’s always interesting to me in my role as translation guru is how the very defects of our writing make it interesting: The fun choice of inappropriate words or bad grammar that is bad in a good way. On the other end of the spectrum you have someone like Ernest Hemingway, who developed a style that was very sparse, using short sentences and plain modifiers to tell stories that had little obvious adornment but plenty of hidden subtlety and depth.
The question for every writer in every genre or market is simple: How can you develop your own style that helps you stand out?
Having done my own writing and worked with plenty of other writers, I have some insights. It’s not difficult to develop your own style, and there are some simple things you can do to help yourself along:
- Read. Reading other writers on a constant basis will subconsciously embed their tricks in your brain, which you can play with and steal or mutate as you see fit.
- Write. Every day. I have an author friend who becomes incensed at people who call themselves writers but who do not write every day. You have to practice the art in order to truly achieve command of it.
- Experiment. Too often writers feel like every project they begin has to be a classic, a success, something great. Relax and give yourself permission to fail! Try writing something in a way you’ve never done before, or do something crazy like trying to write without using the letter ‘E’ or in the second person. Experiments teach you greater control.
Most importantly: Have fun. Writing is art, and it should nourish your soul.
Image courtesy goinswriter.com