Today we’re featuring a guest post from Milli Thornton, writing coach and author of “Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers” (a copy of which is on my bookshelf ).
Part of your style means doing it the way that feels good to you.
Sounds simplistic, right? But often the simple lessons in life are the ones we need to keep relearning.
If you have total acceptance for your own style, you might not even remember what it felt like to not know. But if you’re still wondering what your own style is, consider this: it might be right there (write there!) under your nose in black and white.
Style = The School of Learning
Recognizing your own personal style is not about being formulaic or resting on your laurels. As writers, we should always be seeking to learn more about our craft. The school of learning is never closed!
Recognizing your own personal style is about realizing you already know how to express your creativity in your own unique way.
Gaining more experience by practicing your craft (write, write, write), or learning the how-to’s (by attending writing workshops or studying books written by the experts) is simply the vehicle.
YOU are the driver. And, deep down inside, you know what you came here to do. The trick is to be able to recognize it.
OK, here’s the practical part. Open one of your writing notebooks—or that “My Writing” folder on your computer—and take a trip down memory lane. Read a selection of your writing, both recent and older.
As you read, pay attention to any recurring themes you might notice. Especially be on the lookout for things you’re uncertain (or ashamed) of that may actually be part of your own unique style.
Style’s All About Doing
Style is about more than just figuring out which genre(s) you feel most comfortable in. It’s about the DOING part, too.
Experiment. Mix it up. Try new things. Try things you think you won’t even be good at. That’s how I discovered I wanted to be a screenwriter. I held a belief that screenwriting was only for certain kinds of writers, and that I lacked any natural aptitude for it—but when I tried it I fell in love.
Doing is also where your platform comes in.
For instance, do you have a driving need to get your message out NOW? Perhaps online articles are the way to go for you . . . rather than the much longer process of having a book published (and one can lead to another, if you remain open to the possibilities).
Or you might have the makings of a renegade non-fiction author who self-publishes and then gets her book out to the people in a workshop setting. (Take it from me, it can be done—even if you’re very shy.)
You may just want to write for your own pleasure, or leave a legacy for your grandkids. Nobody says you have to compete with the levels of sophistication that the media and the Internet present as the ultimate.
Look at your writing with the eyes of acceptance. What feels the most right for you? And, just as importantly, what doesn’t feel right for you?
P.S. Don’t wait for the world to believe in you. Believe in yourself first. It’s faster and more efficient.
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at the Fear of Writing Blog, and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching Service.