Many writers wonder about how they should express themselves on paper. Should they use bold, dramatic words that cater to an audience with an above average grasp on the English language? Should they use profanity to get their point across? Incomplete, choppy sentences? Strict adherence of all laws of grammar?
In the end, the writer can do whatever they wish.
There is no one style or way of writing when it comes to fiction. Academic journals have set structure and grammatical guidelines, but stories and the like are at the writer’s whim for how they’re written. It’s up to each and every author to figure out how they want to present their story. The journey an author takes to get there is just part of the process. For the most part, the author’s style of writing is just another way that they can find their own storytelling voice.
So How Did You Get Your Style?
I’ve been writing novels since I was 10 years old. They weren’t the best, but I had a lot written by the time I entered high school. When I was 16, I got an outdated, yet functional, laptop as a present for Christmas. It was one of the best gifts I had ever received. Before then I was trying my hand at writing short stories on the family computer, but was too scared of having other family members stumble upon my work to save it anywhere but on a website account (Gaia Online in case anyone remembers the ‘journal’ they had there). Having my own laptop gave me the freedom to save my work in my own space and write for hours on end anywhere I went. It opened up a whole new door of opportunities to develop my skills and hone my style.
During my last year of high school, tragedy struck my family and I lost the will to write. My life seemed to be falling to pieces around me, and I didn’t know what else to do but buckle down and keep my head in my studies. I made it into college, life got better, and I slowly started to try writing again. It was hard to get back into something that I had stopped doing for years, but I eventually got the nerve to publish a piece of work I’d been working on since I was 13 years old. The original file had actually been saved on a floppy disk for the first few years, but by the time it was published it had been through several flash drives, a couple of emails, and a near loss when I found a backup copy saved on the twenty-year-old, still barely functional family computer.
The first novel I ever published, I hate to say, flopped. It wasn’t written very well, didn’t go through a professional editing team, and was almost cringe-worthy to read years later. I had the broody teen heroine, the unrealistic love triangle, and the setup for a three book series. Yet, if I could go back in time to when I agreed to have it published, I’d still do it. Going through the process was a valuable learning experience that showed me that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. If I had never published my first novel (though it saw no sales and I spent much, much more than I thought possible on getting it to print), I would have never known the feeling of completing a piece of work that I had put so much of my soul into.
Sometimes, the best lesson to learn is that even with years of hard work and dedication, there is still no guarantee that your writing will be well-received.
What Did You Learn from That?
Now that I’ve had such an experience, I’ve decided to try a new style of writing in order to reach a larger audience. By writing seven part series, I can have seven short stories (whether connected or not) that serve to create a larger picture. Not only that, but I can also practice writing different genres with greater efficiency. My first series was coming-of-age/slice of life, the second was mystery/sci-fi, the third was dystopian, the fourth historical fiction, and so on. My next series will be horror, the next comedy, and from there I can try whatever I want to in order to gauge my liking and proficiency for each genre.
Finding your voice as an author doesn’t come easily. Many mistakes will be made along the way, but each of them is important – nay, necessary in realizing what kind of writer you really are. If I’ve learned anything from my journey, it’s that I should never give up on myself. Even when I think I’ve written absolute garbage and want to scrape everything, that’s perfectly fine. So long as I learned something from the experience, I’ve already grown as a writer.
The Big Picture
Very few people wake up one morning, type out a flawless work, publish it, and get millions of sales. The majority of writers have to work hard at their craft, accept rejection with humility and an open mind, and strive to better themselves.
Above all else, the greatest lesson a writer can ever learn is to be patient.
You won’t spontaneously realize that you’re better at writing horror than you are comedy. You need to try your hand at writing both to figure that out. Everything takes time, and time is a fickle friend.
If there’s one piece of advice that you take away from this article, it’s that no matter how much time you put into a piece of work, there’s never enough to do all the things that you want to do. Do the things that make you happy and time will never seem like an issue. If you’re not happy with your work and spending far too much time of it, then it’s probably a better idea to go back and set your priorities straight.
Remember: failure isn’t always a bad thing, or a tragic end, or a reflection of your true self. It’s a lesson that points us in the direction of success.