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Writing Tip: Develop Your Style

Writing Tip: Develop Your Style
Writing Style

The thing people will remember about what you write isn’t the concepts behind your work. When you read a story, it’s not the characters or the plot that really defines your enjoyment of the tale. No: the most important part of writing is the way in which you write – your style. You can have a marvelous concept for a piece, try to put it to paper, and still have it fall apart as you proceed. On the other hand, you can take a monotonous idea, one that’s been used to death, and still create a masterpiece. The difference between great – or at the very least, good – writing and poor copywork has all to do with your individual style.

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Developing your style isn’t something you can follow a strict set of rules for. There’s no one “right” style; your own style is really just a compilation of the things you’re comfortable writing about and methods you use to write. Some people have a very flowery, flowing writing style. Others write in short bursts of thought and focus entirely on the main points of what they write. You could be either, or – most likely – you fall somewhere in between with your style. What matters isn’t learning a style, but finding your own style and developing it.

Though there’s no one definitive guide to mastering a style, here are a few tips that might help you along.

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Most people write in the same way they talk. People who don’t use big words while talking to their friends tend not to use big words when they write. Sarcastic people are more prone to writing sarcastically. It’s not always exact, but if you try to write in a drastically different tone of voice than you speak in, there’s a greater chance of your writing sounding hashed-up and not genuine. Try reading what you write aloud once in a while: does it feel comfortable speaking it? If not, try to figure out how to write it in the manner you would normally speak.

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Don’t write about things you don’t know about. If you try to write about political drama, for instance, without having been involved in political affairs (or the equivalent, even if it’s something like student government in college), there’s a chance that you will sound either forced or just completely infactual. Writers who handle complex, detailed worlds they’re not familiar with tend to familiarize themselves with what they’re writing about before they begin writing. (Tom Clancy comes to mind here.) If you aren’t comfortable with what you’re writing, it will show clearly in your writing style.

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Likewise, if you don’t feel good with particular techniques, avoid them. A popular essay-writing method involves providing a contrary argument to a subject, followed by a counterargument. While it’s a useful technique, and one that adds credibility to your thesis, too many writers try just sticking out an argument, then rehashing the same facts they have already presented, which seems unorganized rather than effective. Similarly, quite a few creative writers tend to borrow from popular authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien or Douglas Adams, emulating them rather than using their techniques along with others. Often, the end result is a work that appears derivative, rather than a story that can stand on its own.

Developing a style is all about familiarity. If you focus on what you know, and if you try to write in the manner that you feel most comfortable rather than copying others, you should have no problem developing a unique style that others can recognize and enjoy as your own.

Rory Marinich is a graduate of the New Jersey Governor’s School of the Arts. Some of his writing can be found online here.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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