style: write for yourself
One of the most difficult things to attain in writing is a grasp of style. In fact, even defining styleis a challenge. Good writers, however, develop a distinct voice. If you have a favorite writer, you may be able to recognize his or her writing just by hearing it read. The rhythm of his sentences. The peculiarities of her vocabulary. The formality or casualness of his tone. Something hard to put your finger on marks this author’s work as distinctly as her fingerprint or DNA.
I believe all of us have a style. We all have the potential to craft words that reflect something special about who we are. The question is – how do you find it?
My advice is simple: don’t look for it. Don’t try for style. Just let it happen.
A writing style isn’t something to squeeze out of yourself like the last brushful of toothpaste. It’s something that comes on its own as you devote yourself to solid writing. Don’t think about writing with style. Think about writing with clarity and conciseness, with sound mechanics and careful word selection. Work on writing well, and you will eventually find yourself writing with style too. You almost can’t help it.
Write to please yourself. Develop an ear for words and the music they make. You don’t even need to explain why you like a sentence better one way than another. It ought to sound right to you. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advice or seek input from others – especially your writing coach. The point is to avoid thinking about what your reader might expect or want or like. Write the way you like – this is the quickest way to begin developing your own personal style. Your writing then becomes a reflection of you – and that’s what style essentially is. Read aloud what you write and ask yourself: “Does this sound like me?”
Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Don’t settle for the cliché when you can come up with something new. Allow the quirkiness of your thinking and the distinctness of your personality to make an appearance in your writing.
But remember, the style that will emerge may not show up for some time. You can’t rush style. And even when you begin developing a sense of style, you’ll soon learn that your style will change over time. Your writing style will change as you mature and grow. Words will start to come more easily (never quite easily enough, though). You’ll find yourself writing more comfortably. Your words will sound like you – only better because you’ve taken the time to craft them carefully.
If you’ve been with WriteAtHome for more than a couple semesters, you may have already noticed a certain sound, an identifiable cadence, an unmistakable you-ishness to your writing. If that’s the case, congratulations. You’ve begun developing your own style.