Tag Archives | greatest hits

Greatest Hits: Finding Your Personal Style As A Writer

While I'm in Frenchglen where there is no internet connection, I'm running an old blog post.  This one was originally posted back in 2007, and I thought it was apropos here since I just wrote another post on voice this past Monday.  Here it is:

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One of my blog buddies, Renny, suggested I answer this question for a post: How do you find your personal style as a writer?

It has taken me awhile to get to it because it is a tough question to answer.

Personal writing style can also be called voice and the truth is, writers who don’t have it would kill to get it.

Sometimes I read student work that is raw, unedited, exuberant and wild. It may need plenty of work, but it has a voice, an energy, an originality that lifts off the page. It is so exciting when this happens. All those other problems can be fixed:

  • You can learn grammar
  • You can fix spelling and punctuation.
  • You can master the technical aspects of writing, whether fiction, or non-fiction.

What is not so easy to find is your voice.

  • Voice, or personal style, is like art: you know it when you see it.
  • Voice is what makes my blog on writing sound different than the next one you read.
  • Voice is what comes straight from the heart. It is what gives you authority and credibility—and you need authority and credibility even if you are writing fiction.

Okay, I hear you. “I want me some of that there style,” you’re saying. “How do I get me some?”

The answer is I don’t know that attaining voice is a mysterious process. Some people seem to be able to find their voice right away. For others it takes longer.

Finding voice most often has to do with writing a lot. Writing every day. Writing more. Writing like your life depended on it. Only by moving your pen across the page repeatedly will you access the voice deep within.

The Voice That is Great Within Us is the name of a poetry collection that I had in college and it is an apt title for personal style—which is, essentially, the voice that is great within us.

The Voice That is Great Within Us is what you want to let out on the page. It is the words that you might well censor as they well up inside you and out your fingertips. But don’t do that. Let it rip. This is why you must write a lot to find your voice—because the more you write, the more familiar you become with it. The more familiar you become with words, the more ease you have. And the more ease you have….the easier it is not to censor yourself.

This is why Renny and other bloggers have an advantage. We bloggers write a lot. (Brief aside: have you ever stopped to consider how glorious it is that here is so much writing going on now because of blogging?) And, let me just say it again—the more you write, the more likely you are to find your personal style.

Honestly, it all comes down to writing. In a pinch, choose quantity over quality. Let it rip, baby. That’s what God invented the art of rewriting for.

Why does everything having to do with writing always come down to writing?

*The photo is new.  It is from soopahtoe, from Everystockphoto.

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The Party is Finally Over and Its Time to Ponder 2009

Everybody left today.  Our house party began a week ago, when the snow started falling and didn't stop Snow 060
for days.  There's still snow on the streets, but now it is accompanied by deep tire ruts filled with water, because it is raining.  Hooray!  We Oregonians love the rain.  At least this Oregonian does.

Regretfully, I waved goodbye to my daughter, the last house guest to leave, this afternoon and realized it was time to get back to work.  For quite some time I've wanted to enter the new year with a plan.  I'm not good at planning and scheduling because I am a rebellious sort.  You know that advice you always hear to schedule time for what you want to get done and write it on your calendar?  Doesn't work for me because once it is written down, I rebel against it.  Too much of the free spirit in me.

Just as I was writing that last paragraph my friend Suzanne called, disturbed because she felt that another friend of hers was disrespecting her time.  In hashing all this out we touched upon the idea that perhaps he was disrespecting her time because he didn't respect his own.  And then I remembered what I had just written about being rebellious about time and realized that maybe it is a matter of respecting oneself more than anything.   Does it ever cease to amaze you how these things get pointed out to us?

I'm determined to change, and the path to change is going to be my plan for 2009.  I'm going to think deep thoughts about what I want to accomplish this year and get them all written down in a way that I can follow. My inspiration is a post I read on Chris Guillebeau's blog about creating an Annual Review.  It's worth a look, and even if you don't make it all the way through, I suspect that the acting of thinking about it will have a big impact.

I'm going to work on my 2009 plan this weekend.  As part of it,  I'll be going back through the posts I've written this year and creating my own personal Greatest Hits of 2008 list.  So I'll report back soon.

Meanwhile, what are you writing goals this year?  Let's all fess up together.  There's strength not only in numbers but in stating our plans.   Leave a comment and get next year's writing success rolling.

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