Finding your own writing style

April 1, 2010 in On Writing, Study by pacejmiller

Lately I’ve been reading and writing a lot and finding myself mimicking the styles of other writers.  Sometimes it’s intentional, and other times it is subconscious.  Either way, I end up disliking the outcome.

I think part of this trend stems from the writing workshops that have been taking place in my course.  We read a lot of “literature”, not all high brow shit, but a lot of it is “award-winning”, in my opinion, kinda snobbish stuff.  It’s a bit of a hit and miss affair, even though most of the books or extracts we read are works that have received high praise in one way or another.

I don’t have any problems with any particular style of writing, as long as it interests me and doesn’t bore me.  Usually, this means I enjoy the writers who tell a good story, rather than writers who can write brilliant prose.  I may admire their ability, but it won’t make me want to read their writing.  I’m not a huge fan of descriptions that take up half a page, or writing that uses superfluous or flowery words when there is no need for it.  I like intriguing characters and slick dialogue, but only when it’s not contrived.  And to be honest, I love action.  The mundane melodramas can sometimes hook me, but it has to be done really well.  I enjoy popular fiction.  I have no problem with commercial or pedestrian stuff.  I suppose I am the product of the short attention span generation.

Anyway, needless to say, my tastes sometimes diverge from those in my class, most of whom are older and more experienced writers.  And every now and then, I feel this invisible pull to conform, as though to be a “better writer” means to be more like the writers that we read in class.  I throw in more description, imagery and more in-depth character development into my writings.  At first, it made me feel safer, but I’ve realised that it’s just made me the same as everyone else, except not as good.

So from now on, no more trying so hard to be someone else.  I’m going to try and find and employ my own style, do what makes me feel good as a writer, and write in a way that I find interesting.  This doesn’t mean I am abandoning what I am learning in class, because every little bit of knowledge, technique and experience helps, but I have to stick to my own style.