Writing Advice: Be Yourself

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Well, it turns out that one of the paramount pieces of advice when it comes to writing is the same as advice that you get for simply living: be yourself! One of the main things you learn in a creative writing course is the art of finding your voice. What does this mean? Basically, each writer has their own distinctive way of writing. Sure, you may be inspired by your favorite authors along the way, but in the end your writing should sound like you and come from your ideas. Stay true to your own ideas and carve your own way forward. This piece of advice came up in Rookie’s list of Ten Rules for Writers, which I’ve referenced here before.

7. Write like yourself. If you try to write like Nabokov, there will always be at least one person (whose name is Nabokov) who’ll do it better than you. But when it comes to writing the way you do, you’ll always be the world champion at being yourself.

This piece of advice from Rookie really says it all! I would add, though, that nearly everyone starts off imitating the writing of someone they admire. That’s perfectly fine to begin with. It’s natural to draw inspiration from those authors you read the most and to want to emulate them. But at some point, you must branch off from the imitative writing and find your own voice. As the above quote says, only you can write from your perspective and your voice. If you make sure that you’re being yourself in your writing, then your writing is sure to be unique.

One thing you can do to find your unique voice is to do a series of speed writing exercises. Have someone else find you ten images for inspiration and then time you for one minute per image to see what you write in response. When you’ve finished, share your work with some fellow writers and ask them what these passages say about you. There you will find the essence of your voice as a writer.

Who are some authors you’ve emulated when writing? What did you find helped you make the leap to writing your own style?

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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