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Embracing Your Writing Style

Here's the thing about the "style" of your writing: It can't be changed.


Sure, it can be improved upon and developed, but much like other elements of who you are, such as the pitch and register of your voice, it can't be changed permanently — and I'm here to tell you that it shouldn't be changed at all.


While getting a degree in English Literature with an emphasis on Creative Writing, I was told very frequently that my "writing style" wasn't right. It was too flowery, too filled with prose, too descriptive — and at the time, that might've been right. While I had been writing for the vast majority of my life, I didn't share any of my work until the final leg of my English degree, and had been writing without professional instruction up until that point. So, my point is that it's very likely that my writing style was, indeed, over the top.


But what I find interesting, in retrospect, was the way in which my professors expected me to adjust my writing style completely — and permanently. They recommended a total overhaul of the way in which I wrote organically, expecting me to stamp out my "style" and replace it with something more contrived, more commercially appealing.


I just can't imagine ever offering any writer that sort of advice. Now, as an editor, I can't help but cherish my clients' writing styles. I consider it my job to polish and amplify those styles — not diminish or forsake them — and honestly, this is what I think every editor should do.


And yet, a few weeks ago, I came across a video on YouTube that advised writers to stop the use of prose altogether and replace it with more "direct" writing. I couldn't help but feel, in a strange way, personally attacked. Why is there such a campaign against my writing style over every other? Why can't all styles be accepted and cherished?


The truth is, art is subjective. It's always been subjective and always will remain subjective — so, the most important question we as creators should be asking ourselves isn't, "How can I change my art to appeal to others?" but rather, "What about my art needs to be protected at all costs, regardless of external feedback?"


Perhaps, even more importantly, "What about my art makes me want to create it?"


Trading in our writing style for something that doesn't feel organic or natural plucks the heart out of our work. It chews away at our want to create. And my more artsy-fartsy side suggests that to do so is creatively blasphemous. Can you imagine if Picasso was told to paint more like Monet and forget his style? The purpose of art is provide a distinct perspective, to stand out creatively, to prompt the viewer to readjust their way of thinking — and the cool thing is, by embracing our unique styles, we're doing exactly that. The harder we try to forge a style, the further away from that goal we get. It's already right there, in front of all of us, god-given and divinely inspired, so to speak. How dare we try to change it?


So, if you're worried about your writing style, my advice is this: Stop worrying. That doesn't at all mean you aren't allowed to refine your style and improve upon it — but rather, stop trying to achieve something that's already been achieved. Your style is something to be protected at all costs. So, protect it.




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