As a writer, you have a literary hero, a blogging deity, or an esteemed wordsmith you look up to and from whom you get inspiration. You are also a byproduct of the things you read, see, experience, and feel. But sometimes, we tend to lose our style in this nest of influences and end up being a voice of sorts.
Maybe you wander because of the pressure of competition, the growing writing world online, the opportunities we can’t wait to grab, the need to impress, or simply because we’ve lost our creative spirit, our magic.
This can affect our business, blogging, or writing in general. Maybe only a few of our readers would notice the changes but the real struggle here is not in your website, blog, or piece of paper. It is in you.
- Who is my writing style?
- Who am I in this room of writers?
- Am I unforgettable?
- What do I contribute to the world?
- What is my story?
Here are three ways to stand out while keeping the world as your influence:
1. Write down your writing story
It can be a paragraph, a whole essay, or a blog post, detailing when and how you woke up the writer in you. For example, I recall when I started reading Bobbsey Twins at six, I’d create my own story of adventure too in my mind and tell my mom about it when it was finished. I recall those Mother’s Days when I’d give my mom a card with a grammatically awkward poem with lines that repeat only one thing: my love for her.
As I grew up and began writing essays in school and competitions, my love for adventure and inspiration became my favorite theme, which developed my writing style. When my topics broadened, I still bring this style, albeit improved and inspired by new writers along the way.
Keep yourself attached to your roots, to your history, to the very beginning of your writing journey. This will make you protect who you are and how you write
better. This will keep you humble and real, and value not only your voice but yourself as a writer more.
2. Use your influences as invisible editors
Before, I tend to use the patterns of my writing stars. Hence, when I run out of these patterns, I end up seeking new ones. I’d ask “How would (insert a writer here) write this?” I would do these instead of ask myself, “What do I feel or think about this?” Instead of being my own pattern. Instead of being completely me.
Influences should be used as inspiration. If inspiration sounds vague, replace it with “editors.” Imagine if your favorite writer is reading the article you just wrote. Imagine if your favorite columnist asked you to contribute to the newspaper. Imagine if Mark Twain were alive and would be one of the judges of the writing competition you just entered. What if they ask you about your style or how you write? How would you share your voice with them?
3. Focus (and expound) on your favorites
A solid way of keeping your voice unique is to focus on things that challenge you and tickle your brain and heart at the same time. To discover those topics, I use my own WAW Method:
The Why is for my inclination for soft stories, those that are inspirational (see, I’m still with my childhood writing story), those that trigger my emotions. I use this for my blogging. I either get this from my experience or others, from the news (why are the older poll participants think it’s too late to pursue their passion?) to my neighbors (why does this couple fight about the same issue for years?)
Then, I’d come up with the topics “Five reasons why Dr. Seuss thinks it is never too late to dream a new dream” and “The art of being sunny and sane with your partner.”
My next method, Aha!, is for concrete discoveries that I use for my copywriting and business writing assignments. This is where I use the detective in me that was honed by the Bobbsey Twins.
For example, if I am writing an About page for a spa business and I have already studied their brand and goals but still lack an angle for the material, I’d do a detective work—where is this spa located, who is behind this spa, what was the owner’s former job, who are the daily customers, why is the spa’s color green, why are there too many white vases inside the spa, etc. Then, I would pick the most interesting answer or angle of the answer, tie it to the brand and to the goal of the spa.
As a writer, I still attend conventions because learning, for me, is a constant process. I know that for every experience, I will learn a thing or two. If not, I may get inspiration or a tiny detail that I can expand in the future. Just like what an author once shared in a talk: every story starts with the question “What if?”
- What if people fly?
- What if chairs are talking?
- What if the world ends tomorrow?
- What if the World Wide Web shuts down? (Okay, don’t panic. Again, I use this often for fiction or literary pieces.)
It’s not too difficult to keep your voice as a writer. There are fascinating finds inside you and how you view the things around you. You just need to listen to yourself so you’ll never run out of tales and thoughts to share. French artist Henri Matisse once said that “creativity takes courage.” For us writers, it’s the courage to believe in our ways with words and the world, in our story, in our own unique voice.
About the author:
Len Cristobal, a freelance writer and editor from the Philippines, enjoys working with clients worldwide, from New York to Singapore. She writes for business, finance, and lifestyle publications and develops content for websites and blogs. She is also co-heading a local group of writers and conducting freelance writing workshops and coaching sessions for aspiring scribes. She shares her thoughts on business, writing, and life on Twitter: @lencristobal86
Also by Len Cristobal:
1. How to Write a Poem and Wake Up the World (article)
2. Words Work: 7 Ways to Get Results in Business Writing (article)
3. How to Get Clients in Less than an Hour for Your Writing Business (article)
4. How Non-Writing Conferences Can Change Your Freelance Writing Career (article)