10 Tips for Developing Your Own Unique Writing Style
If you’re a new or developing writer, finding your writing style can unlock your creativity, help you define your writing process, and even get you a writing career. Landing on your personal style can take a little exploration time, but the effort is well worth it.
I’m a former English teacher with a specialism in teaching creative writing, as well as a copywriter and award-winning novelist. In this article, I’ll help you to understand how to find your writing style and get started on your writing journey. This will be helpful for anyone who is interested in writing, whether you are pursuing it professionally, or as a personal passion.
First, let’s break down what writing style actually means.
What is a writing style?
Writing style encompasses a range of writing features. Essentially, it’s the voice and tone of your writing. These are made up of word choice, sentence structure, syntax, grammatical variations, literary or rhetorical techniques, rhythm — and more.
In general, writing style conforms to four categories:
- Expository: This is writing that explains something through delivery of facts. For example, articles, scientific reports and other academic writing, technical writing, or educational blog posts. It doesn’t usually give an opinion.
- Descriptive: As suggested by the title, this type of writing describes. It can be used in poetry, fiction, or descriptive nonfiction that needs to paint a picture (such as travel writing).
- Narrative: This tells a story. While most narrative writing is fictional, there is also a strong genre of narrative nonfiction (such as memoir).
- Persuasive: This aims to convince the reader of a particular opinion or viewpoint.
However, these categories are hugely generalized. In reality, each writer will have their own distinct style that reflects their personality as well as the aims of their writing.
Identifying your writing style
So, how can you find and develop your writing style? This is a great opportunity to do a deep dive into your own work so far, and the work of others you admire. It’s also a chance for self-reflection and considering your own personality as an artist and human being.
An important first step is to consider why you write. What do you want to put across? What effect(s) do you want to create?
Some writers will be highly motivated by a desire to inform and educate. This may apply particularly to those working in an academic field, journalists, or those with a passionate interest they want to convey, like specialist bloggers.
Others might have an artistic motivation. Creating a work of beauty can be a driver in itself, but many writers also want to evoke strong emotions like fear, pity, or desire. Poetry is a natural example of this, but writers pursuing an artistic motive might also be interested in writing plays, novels, or narrative nonfiction like memoir.
Your writing style should reflect what you want others to take away from your work.
1. Reflect on life experiences
Your writing “why” might come from some of your real life experiences. Whether you are writing about your own life or not, your past can have a huge influence on what and how you create.
Writing about your own life in the form of journal entries or memoir can be hugely beneficial here. Let your writing flow as you write about places and people that are familiar to you, or experiences that really stand out in your mind.
Pay attention to the kind of language you choose to describe your personal experiences as you tap into your core personality. Is it irreverent? Casual/informal? Highly descriptive? This writing style could be an important building block of your overall writer’s voice.
2. Analyze the types of writing you enjoy
You probably have a few authors whom you really admire. It’s time to consider why they make such an impact on you!
The purpose of this exercise is not to highlight weaknesses in your own work, or set up an unattainable goal (we can’t all be Ernest Hemingway). But looking closely at the types of writing styles that appeal to you can add a lot to your own writing voice.
Try to find a selection of passages or short texts that you really like, ideally across your desired genre. Look at how the writers have used descriptive language for effect, for example. Or, explore how sentence structure creates clarity and emphasis in expository writing.
You can also do this exercise with examples of narrative writing. For example, look at how different writers have opened or closed their stories, or described landscapes or characters. Again, you can compare linguistic techniques, sentence structure, and vocabulary choices.
Now look at a similar piece from your own work. Do you use any similar techniques? Could you introduce any of these to your piece? Conversely, there may be things in your own writing that are unique to you. These might be expressions, turns of phrase, or grammatical twists that are personal to you. Or, perhaps you come back to certain imagery or vocabulary on a regular basis. Identifying these can give you a stronger sense of your personal voice.
3. Examine sentence structure and word choice in your work
You can apply a similar method to other pieces of your existing creative writing or nonfiction work. Select some passages from things you have written already. This might work better if you compare like for like, e.g. opening paragraphs, descriptive passages, or short examples of persuasive writing.
Now look across these extracts and see if you can spot any similarities. Which techniques do you use the most often? Do your sentences follow a similar pattern?
Equally, you might also find places where your writing differs. What impact does that have on you as a reader? Which word choices really stand out?
Understanding your existing style can give you a basis from which to further develop your personal writing voice.
Developing your writing style
At the end of the day, when it comes to writing, there is no substitute for actually sitting down and doing it. The more you write, the more comfortable you will become with your personal style. As you create, take time to mindfully consider the style choices you are making, and how they reflect your aims and personality as a writer.
For example, notice the length of your sentences. Are you creating a fast or slow pace with your sentence structure? Pay attention to the imagery that comes up in your choice of language, too. Would this stand out when placed alongside other pieces of writing?
It’s also important to leave your comfort zone. Consistently writing in just one genre or form can leave you on autopilot. Trying something new can generate new aspects of style that you can incorporate into your overall writing voice.
4. Brainstorm ideas for creative writing projects
To get started with stretching your writing style, why not brainstorm some ideas for new creative projects? Try to come up with ideas across all four general categories listed above; this will really challenge you to grow as a writer.
We have given some ideas below, but you could also ask an AI tool to generate some ideas for you! Using a Generative AI tool, you can use a prompt like “Give three new briefs for writing [whatever form you wish], including a theme, title, and five key words to include.” This could be an interesting challenge to see if you can meet new and diverse writing briefs.
5. Write descriptive pieces to enhance description styles and imagery
Whether you normally write in a narrative style, or something more factual, it’s useful to develop your descriptive writing skills. Being able to describe something vividly can be useful for a variety of aims, including writing more narrative fiction or nonfiction, using your writing for persuasive purposes like sales, or becoming a blogger or reviewer.
You could try simply picking something from your day and describing it in as much detail as possible. Or, how about describing your dream travel destination? Focus on using a descriptive writing style with plenty of imagery (metaphors and similes, for example) and well-chosen vocabulary.
If you need support with building your skill in descriptive styles, consider using an AI writing tool like Wordtune. Wordtune can help you upgrade your writing by suggesting synonyms that make your vocabulary more effective.
6. Try technical writing for precision and clarity
Another great writing challenge to push you out of your comfort zone could be to try some technical writing. For example, write a blog post detailing how to use your favourite app, or a section for a user manual for your phone.
When writing for precision and clarity, it’s important to write in shorter sentences, avoiding the passive voice. You should also avoid abstract imagery and use scientific or official terminology where appropriate. If you usually write in a more imaginative, descriptive way, it can be quite an adjustment to reign in your style.
You could also challenge yourself to make your writing more precise by summarizing an existing text, like a scientific paper. You could then run the same paper through Wordtune’s summarizing tool, Read. Comparing the two pieces could show you how to make your writing even more concise when needed.
7. Experiment with narrative and business writing styles to expand your skillset
If you normally write nonfiction, challenge yourself to write narrative fiction for a change. Prompts could include images or text prompts/titles you find online, or you could use an existing poem or a line from another story to spark your own.
Or, if your focus is normally the narrative writing style, try switching to engaging but informative nonfiction for a business audience. For example, try writing a blog post for your existing or dream employer, or put together a report on a subject you know well.
Wordtune’s tone feature could help here. Input a base text like an existing blog and change the tone on Wordtune to something more casual by using the “casual” tone button. Now, rewrite it on your own to suit a formal, business context.
Practicing your writing style
Now, it’s time to put all your learning together and actually practice your writing style. With a little effort, you can enhance your writing skills and you’ll begin to write instinctively in your upgraded personal voice. There are a few key ways to achieve this, including:
8. Read examples from professional writers (e.g., Stephen King)
Continue to read widely to build your exposure to the type of writing styles you want to emulate, as well as other kinds of writing beyond that. As you read, you could keep a note of particularly effective passages or sentences.
You could also read books on the craft of writing, for example those by authors Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, or Toni Morrison. These can help you hone your technique with specific advice and creative exercises from professional and successful authors.
9. Pen to paper: practice every day
As with any skill, practice becomes effective when it’s regular. Try to build a daily habit of writing, even if it’s something small like a journal entry. The more you write, the more confident you’ll become in your own abilities.
It’s also a good idea to practice editing your own work. This can be tricky if you’re not used to looking at your own writing with a critical eye. Wordtune can help you identify spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes in moments. It can also suggest ways to expand on your work, and upgrade your vocabulary using effective synonyms. Editing your own work is a vital part of developing as a writer and you may need support to get there.
10. Take an online course or workshop on different aspects of the craft
There are loads of courses and workshops you can find to help you develop your writing skills. Some will focus on a specific style, such as narrative writing, while others might be thematic (nature writing) or more general.
It’s important to consider the format of the course before you begin. Some might have opportunities for peer or teacher feedback, which could be invaluable. Double-check if you will be able to interact with others in your class, or if the course is asynchronous. Of course, if you want to follow the sessions at your own pace, a totally self-studied course could be better for you.
Starting to explore how to find your writing style can build your confidence and creativity as a writer. Whether you are writing from your own life experience, creating new worlds, or informing your readers about important information, you can do this in your own distinct voice. Taking time to build and enhance your personal style will make your writing more memorable and original. Don’t forget that there are many resources out there to help you!
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.