I recently wrote a guest post and frankly, I struggled with it a little. I was certainly comfortable with the material and I knew what I wanted to say. I hadn’t written for this person before and I didn’t want to come across as a bad writer. After a while I decided, “Screw it. I’m just going to write in my style and not try to be something different for someone else.”
Was this a good strategy? I don’t know. All I do know is that the more I tried to fit into a box, the more the writing felt stifled and stiff. Once I made the decision to be my writing self, the words flowed a lot easier.
I know I’m not the best or most cultured grammarian. I frequently start sentences with “And or “But.” I screw up my punctuation and still haven’t figured out the whole semicolon thing. Oh and I’m sure I’ve left enough participles dangling to decorate a Christmas tree. Oh well.
My style has always been based on the words I would normally speak flowing from my head to the paper. In other words I write like I speak. As much as possible I do try to fit the grammar mold but I generally won’t compromise my style to do so. I think for some folks that read my stuff this may be a distraction but I’ll bet it’s not that big a deal for most.
I will say that the one place I’m most likely to let properness overcome style is when I’m writing for a client. Typically they are more interested in proper presentation and less concerned with the George-ness of my writing. Generally speaking, I’m able to accomplish this without too much trouble. In fact, morphing is a much needed skill for a writer, particularly a freelance writer.
Outside of those fairly strict freelance guidelines, My advice to writers is to have enough faith in your style to embrace it. If we all wrote the same, all writing would be the same and where is the joy in that?
You’ll know when you are writing your style because the words will flow naturally and you won’t question every word, sentence and paragraph. You have to be yourself and embrace your writing style. It’s not always easy but the effort is worth it in the end.
How about you? Do you know your style? Do you embrace it as part of yourself or do you try to write like someone else?