Do You Have A Writing Style?

I’ve done a lot of writing over the course of my life. If we don’t count letters, I started writing screen plays in my preteens (Star Trek related stuff, with the names changed of course), then graduated to poetry in my teens. In college I wrote a journal for 3 1/2 years, and in my junior year I started composing music and writing lyrics.

contemplating writing style

From there I started trying to write stories… novels were in my mind. I wrote a few of them… but never finished one. Then I got into leadership positions in health care and started writing procedure training manuals, along with articles for medical billing organizations. Moved on to writing newsletters for my business and other magazines, joined a writing group at the library where we wrote short stories and talked about our novels, before I finally got into blogging.

I’d love to say I grew into being an accomplished writer because of how early I started, but that wouldn’t be quite true. The process of writing part is accurate; the growth of becoming a better write (song lyrics notwithstanding) didn’t come until I started blogging back in 2005.

My early posts were… bad. Every once in a while I wrote something that was pretty good but overall I was missing a good style of communicating my thoughts well. I overused certain phrases that no one else said, wasn’t as direct as I should have been, and wasn’t as logical and orderly as I like to believe I am now.

I hadn’t actually thought about it all that much until I started working on my 2nd book on leadership some years ago, back in 2013 when I was on the road. I didn’t start from scratch like I did with my first book. I decided to put together a compilation of some of my earliest newsletters and early blog posts on my other blog on the subject. After all, I’ve written so much about it that I probably have many books I could put together.

When I started looking at those early newsletters, which I’d started writing in 2003, I realized they were horrific; I cringed. My initial thought was to leave everything alone and put in the preface that I wanted to show how much better my writing got over time as well as talking about leadership. I realized later on that was a terrible idea, so I proceeded to work on my earliest articles, which means I basically rewrote at least 50% of everything I wanted to use.

I had to do all that rewriting because I realized that, over time, my writing voice and rhythm was drastically different than it was when I started writing. My present style developed from trial and error, and I think it’s much more conversational and ordered; at least I hope so. By the way, if you’d like to buy a copy of it, check out the first book over there to the left, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy (a plug! lol).

Having found my voice doesn’t mean that everyone will like my style, but at least it’s my style. Every person that writes a blog has a certain style, and that’s a good thing.

Some years ago I tried writing for what’s known as an “article farm” named Demand Studios. They worked hard at trying to put everyone under the same strict guidelines as far as style was concerned. It was confining and stifling and, though they didn’t see it at the time, lead to very poorly written content. When they took a significant hit with the first Google Panda update they had to reevaluate the content they were putting out. It paid okay, but I kept running into editing issues based on their criteria… which figures. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve always said blogging isn’t easy for most people when it comes to writing. I’ve written a lot of blog posts over the years for myself and others, but I’ve only found it easy when I could write my way, using my style and writing about things I cared about. My style works for me because in general terms I speak the way I write. I say general because when I speak I do it in a less direct style than I do when I write… at least until recently I did.

Here’s the question I put to you; do you have a writing style? Is it any good? When you read what you’ve written does it “sound” like you or someone else? Does it look good in print?

There are people who can tell a great story but can’t put it down on paper, and the reverse is true as well. I always figure that’s why it takes some people hours to write a blog post whereas I can usually write one in 15 minutes or less. All of us might have ideas that come to us the same way, but we put it in print differently because of how we process what it is we want to say.

If you do something enough times you’ll develop a style that hopefully you’ll be comfortable with. My thoughts have always been to never wait for perfection, because you’ll never get anything done. Get in there, start writing, and let the chips fall where they may. Be brave, because fortune favors the brave; now where have I seen that before? ๐Ÿ˜‰

13 thoughts on “Do You Have A Writing Style?”

  1. Hi Mitch, I agree on if you wait for perfection you will never get anything done! I’ve made mistakes but you can also use the EDIT button ๐Ÿ™‚ My style has changed too and sometimes I’m still not happy with my writing and other times I am. I think I go through phrases with it. But you right, try to put in your own voice. Have a good week there!

    1. I’m almost always happy with my writing. The only time I’m not is when I write when I’m not in the mood and it felt like a slog of an article. Sometimes I keep them in draft mode until I’m ready to do something better with it.

  2. Hi MItch,

    I, unlike you, hate writing. But, it’s the only way to get myself out there to my limited audience… hence email, chess, and things like this. I must say that for the time of ‘mateship’ I’ve lived to see you do all the things you mentioned in your article and I’m still here.

    You must be doing something right.

    John Robertson – From Down Under

    1. LOL! Is this the first time you’ve ever commented on this blog? Thanks for that! ๐Ÿ˜€ We’ve known each other a long time and our letters via email are usually fairly entertaining. We get into details of what’s going on, which is something a lot of people fail to do. For what we do your style fits perfectly.

    1. That puts you way ahead of me Ramana, though I’m working on it. Oddly enough, I’m more direct when I write, though I don’t think I’m direct enough. In person, I don’t have to let a lot of things go because almost no one ever dares to say things to me in person that they do in writing. I’ve enjoyed that for most of my life, and I think we’d get along with each other better of more people were a bit more perspicacious with their words online.

  3. I have a writing style, though I don’t know how I’d describe it. My writing voice has evolved over the years, and my writing is much better now than it was 15 years ago. Writing 5 days a week helps with that.

    1. I’m not sure I could describe my style either. Long term, it doesn’t matter; as long as it feels comfortable for me and my readers understand me, I’m good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I donโ€™t know about my style. Sometimes I am preachy and I know thatโ€™s not good. Sometimes I come across, I think, as very caring and sharing. Probably sometimes pedantic and sometimes head-in-the-clouds. Idealistic. It varies from day-to-day. When I read some of my drafts I know I have to walk away and get a focus.I try to edit because I can be verbose with filler words that donโ€™t add to the story. Probably doing that here…

    1. LOL! I think your style is direct and kind. You’re passing along messages and stories, and I think it works wonders for your blog. You’re also not trying to sell anything or educate; you’re “speaking” like you might if you were sitting across from someone drinking a hot chocolate (I don’t drink coffee lol).

  5. This is so true! I can definitely relate. And by the way, did you change your website? It looks different! And I like it. =) I think voice is hard to figure out as a fiction and nonfiction writer. At the beginning, it’s normal to emulate the writers you look up to, which is what I did. I think we just need to get out of our own way. Self-consciousness can steal away our own unique style, which is what the world is in dire need of. Your voice is so strong in your writing. I can hear you as I read them. But it takes time and confidence. I’m always working on this especially with newsletters!

    1. Hey Brandi-Ann! First, you missed this article:

      I almost thought of saying I think it’s harder to do for fiction than it is for nonfiction. Then I thought about it and realized it probably took me 6 years to figure out my writing voice for nonfiction, which is strange since I’d been writing since I was 8 years old. lol I think once we get beyond the writing rules we learn in school and feel comfortable in our own skin we start feeling better about being ourselves in our writing, and when we feel good we write better. At least that’s my intention.

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