Sometimes, I surprise myself. I just finished writing my first book and contributing to another one. Throughout the process, I kept asking myself this question:
“Is this me?”
In the past year, I've really honed my writing voice. I've defined my unique style and stuck to it.
But the truth is I am still figuring this out as I go. We all are.
There are different styles of writing and different types of writers. Discovering which works best for you and your tribe of readers is essential to becoming a successful writer.
So how do you begin?
The world is full of different writers
Anne Jackson, a blogger and author, writes in a more stream-of-consciousness, conversational style. At her core, she is a poet. Everything she writes flows from that place — from her artist's heart.
Nick Kristoff, a New York Times columnist and author, writes serious articles and books on human rights issues. His style is powerful and compelling, but more like that of a typical journalist. His words inform, but also move you to act.
Rob Bell, a provocative pastor and author, writes in terse, sometimes incomplete, sentences. He uses lots of white space in his books, allowing the blank parts on the page to speak as loudly as the words.
Finding your own writing style
Your writing is unique. So is mine. Each of us may have multiple styles of writing, depending on the context. The trick is knowing when to use what and not getting pigeon-holed as a certain type of author.
This is the tension in which we all live: creating art as the Muse moves us, while being sensitive to the market for it. Your unique style will help you do this in a way that doesn't compromise the integrity of your work.
You have to know your audience and writing in a way that is authentically “you,” while still being sensitive to their needs.
How to mess this up
The best way to fail at finding your unique writing style is to not try. To sit back and wait for your voice to come to you. To mimic someone else, or just play it safe.
If you don't experiment — if you don't try different styles for different contexts — you will handicap your craft and limit your ability to reach more people. You won't grow as a writer if you don't try new things, even new styles.
Take some time to find your own style of writing — that specific way you pen words and craft sentences. Give it its due attention. It'll be worth it. Your readers will thank you.
If you need help, check out this article I wrote: 10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
Whatever you do, don't just sit on this. The biggest way to mess this up is to ignore it, to refuse to find a style of your very own and use it. That's the last thing you should do.
What style of writing do you use? What style do you love to read? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Thomas Fisher (Creative Commons)