Finding your authentic writing style is a crucial part of your journey as a writer.
I have a couple questions I’d like for you to answer in the comments section below.
1. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
2. Do you write in one sitting (a word vomiter) or do you write in small sections with decent time intervals in between?
3. What’s your natural genre? Meaning, what style do you lean towards? Not “who do I want to write like” but say, if you had a couple glasses of wine and started scribbling, what style would come out?
4. What’s your editing process like?
5. Do you have a critique group or a writing partner?
I’m asking because it’s vital you understand both your own process and your own identity as a writer.
So often, we have expectations of who we should be. Or what we should be writing. How we should write. Where we should be published.
To quote my therapist, “You’re should’ing all over yourself.”
Yeah, don’t nobody got time for that.
It took me a while to find my real self as a writer (and a person but that’s an entirely different and much longer story). I had all sorts of expectations about what I should be writing (charming romances with quirky heroines and quippy dialogue) when what I really wanted to write was dark, demented, and friggin’ disturbed.
Want to know when I started selling at a professional level?
Yep. You guessed it. When I let go of the sugary-sweet prose and expectations for myself and embraced all that was weird and wonderful in my own style. My most popular and often-reprinted stories are the darkest, weirdest ones I’ve written. These were the stories that burned like coals inside my frontal lobe. I felt the characters winding themselves up, heard their voices, was inspired by their bravery, until I had no choice but to spit their stories onto the page.
I’m a word vomiter. My best stories often come in one sitting or several long stretches spaced closely together. I’m also known for strong character voices. I’ve found if I wait too long between writing sessions I lose whatever distinctive voice I’m using and have to work far too hard to keep it consistent. When a reader goes back through my story, they feel that distance, that work, and it’s off-putting in some far-recessed part of their brains. The story doesn’t feel natural.
I’m also a pantser. I never know where my story is going until it’s there. So my first drafts are fast and frantic. And that’s okay. I tried to force myself to outline. Didn’t work. Total failure. Ka-blooey.
Nancy Kress is a famous pantser. She set me down and gave me strict instructions to NEVER look back. Finish the damn story. (She also said to never sleep with editors and publishers because it makes for awkward elevator rides, but I digress.)
Basically, find what works for you.
Write like YOU.
Readers know the difference.