So, you want to be a writer. But what kind of writer do you want to be? Long before you establish your writing career, you must discover your writing style. The thing is, there are all kinds of writing.
Excuse me for a moment while I channel my best Forrest Gump impression. When it comes to writing, there’s short story writing, poetry writing, blog writing, novel writing, song writing, grant writing, medical writing, scientific and research writing, article writing, technical writing, copywriting, speech writing, transcript writing, scripts and screenplay writing, grant writing, resume writing, cover letter writing, article writing, and more.
Whew, try saying that fast five times. Could you picture Forrest Gump naming the varieties of shrimp as you read the list? I did. Anyway, I digress. The point is that if you want to be a writer, the field of writing is ripe with opportunities. You just have to decide what you want to write.
As a writer, my tag phrase is “Because we use words every day.” After that phrase I usually add something like “I’m the writer and coach you need to succeed.” However, the tag line is perfect for this discussion as well. Don’t believe me? Here goes. “Because we use words every day, there will always be a need for writers to articulate ideas, expectations, desires, and wants.”
I can’t name an avenue that doesn’t use language in some form or fashion. Can you? You can’t! That’s a good thing because it means there’s a place for you to flourish in the writing industry. The trick is to find your writing style.
So, what do I mean when I say writing style. A writing style refers to the way a writer chooses to convey meaning to the reader. Does the writer want to inform, persuade, or entertain the reader? How does she plan to get her point across? The reason why two articles about the same topic can be different is because of a writer’s style. One writer might use his platform to persuade his audience that pesticides are bad while the other highlights the benefits of pesticides. Both articles contain similar information, but it’s the approach and purpose that makes the difference.
I mentioned earlier there are different kinds of writing, but did you know they fall into one of the four main writing styles? Believe it or not, you already know them. You learned them in school. The four main writing styles are:
Expository Writing deals with explaining an idea or concept by providing detailed information. Typically, this type of writing contains facts (no opinions allowed), formal writing, and lots of examples to inform the reader. Examples of this writing style include:
Descriptive Writing uses figurative language and literary devices to enhance the details the writer gives the reader about a topic. In other words, it’s about the language the author uses to convey meaning. The five senses is a tool writers employ to amplify a reader’s experience and connection to a text. Often times, this type of writing is meant to entertain and inform the audience. Examples include:
Narrative Writing focuses on telling a good story, whether it’s real or imaginary. Just like descriptive writing, writers use sensory details to get their point across. Writers call upon the elements of story such as plot, characters, settings, and themes to convey meaning. This type of writing can entertain, inform, or persuade an audience. Examples include:
Persuasive Writing is a tactic writers use to convince readers about a certain stance. Point of view is key. The writer’s job is to persuade the reader her point of view is the right one, and perhaps, even do something about it. For this type of writing, writers use facts, research, details, and opinions. Examples include:
Essays (Argumentative, Comparison)
Cover Letters/Letters of Recommendations
The beauty of the four writing styles is that once you’ve mastered them, you can mix and match the styles to fit your needs. For instance, say you love swaying people’s opinion about topics. You might write a product review to persuade readers that a particular item is the one to buy, and in doing so, craft a story (narrative) and provide sensory details (descriptive) to explain how the product works (expository). Before you dabble, I encourage you to establish your unique style and decide which of the four writing styles is for you.
Now that you know the basics, what kind of writer do you want to be? Understanding your writing style is half the battle. Once you identify your writing style, the next step is to figure out the type of writer you want to be and focus your attention on the writing projects you’re meant to complete. More importantly, you will shy away from the projects that don’t fit your writing style.
Want to learn why identifying your writing style is important? Be sure to read my blog, "Busting A Writing Myth: Why All Writing is Not the Same.”