My style has been described in many ways, including quirky, professional, offbeat, punchy, and prolonged. My style differs, to some extent, depending on what I’m writing. When writing as a marketer, I tend to go more for the professional and authoritative sides of my style. When writing as a storyteller, my style tends to be more detailed and, yes, more prolonged. When writing as an advocate, I tend to play up the quirkier sides of my style. Among any of these I can be both offbeat and punchy.
As a journeyman writer, it’s important to know your style(s) of writing. You should be intimately familiar with your style, so you can see clearly when you’ve strayed from it. Ideally, you won’t stray from your style. On very rare occasions, it may be necessary to vary your style within a given piece. Of course, if you ghost write, then you’re not trying to write in your style, you’re trying to write in someone else’s style. Regardless, you should be conscious of your style and the style you’re writing in within, at the very least, the editing phase of a piece.
If you know your own style, then you have the choice to deviate from it or go back to it. If you don’t know your own style, then you don’t have that power. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t know your own style, then you’re probably not really a journeyman writer yet. An understanding of style is one of those elusive professional developments that come with the transition from an apprentice to a journeyman writer.
It can be painful to read your own work. It can be wonderful, too. Sometimes, though, as you’re developing your skill as a writer, you’ll need to go back over old work and read what you’ve written. Don’t try to edit it, as tempting as that might be. Just read it. See the choices you made then, note that you’ve matured, and focus on the style of your prose. If you’re on track in your professional development, then you can trace the development of your style over time. If you’re not, then you may need to consider who you’re writing for.
At one level, you should always (with the exception of ghost writing) be writing for yourself. If you’re true to yourself, then it’s likely that you will be true to your style. When you betray your style, you betray one of the reasons that readers come back to read your work time and again. Your style as a writer is part of your identity. It is part of what makes your writing worth reading. It’s part of what makes writing worth doing for you.
Find your style and stay true to it, even if you can’t put it into words. Your style is part of the offering you make to your readers. The more authentic you are, the more you will be able to win readers who will truly enjoy your work.