The Writing Style Challenge I Crossed an Ocean to Avoid
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
Back in college, there was a class I moved a whole country away in order to avoid.
Only for a semester, mind you. And it wasn’t the only factor involved in my decision to study abroad. But I sure wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth when it came to not taking this particular course.
Why did I want to bypass it so badly?
For starters, the professor was an absolute academic snob. As chair of the English department, Preston Peters (not his real name) walked around with his nose constantly and literally up in the air. That way, he could better stare down said appendage with regal superiority at anyone who wasn’t his perceived literary equal.
(And you wonder why I make so many snide comments about English-major types.)
He was also known as a harsh grader, except when it came to his teacher’s pets. Then he fawned all over them like they were the second coming of Virginia Woolf.
Frankly, as someone who never seemed to be able to make her English professors happy – only the non-literary ones – I didn’t want to deal with any of that. Nor did I feel like completing the infamous assignment he was known to give in this particular class.
Which I’m now going to present to you.
Lucky you, in your case, this isn’t a college course. In fact, it’s not a course at all.
It’s a blog post with a Writing Challenge you can either take or leave. If you’re a rotten little coward or just plain lazy like I am, then go run away to England to avoid it.
Tell the University of Cheltenham I said hi while you’re over there. And eat a breakfast bap for me too. Or maybe two.
If you’re up for the assignment though, here it is…
Try channeling your favorite author’s writing style.
Who’s your favorite author? Whoever it is, read over one of this person’s paragraphs, pages or even chapters, taking detailed notes of how he or she wrote that segment based on Tuesday’s Definition. Then take a writing prompt (feel free to use your own or one from Innovative Editing’s Pinterest page) and write from it with his or her style instead of your own.
The point isn’t to ultimately become your favorite author though. It’s to become a stronger version of yourself: to test your skills and understand your own style better.
Isn’t your writing style worth understanding?
To make sure that last line in that last segment doesn’t come across as manipulative… rest assured that there’s more than one way to understand your writing style.
You can simply keep writing, noticing what you’re writing and how you’re writing it.
You can keep writing and keep reading, noticing what those other authors are writing and how they’re writing it – without painstakingly taking notes along the way.
You can also ask someone else to read over your writing to get further insights into the matter.
Any of those methods can help you become more intimately acquainted with what you do.
However, if you really, really like your favorite author’s way of writing – which I imagine you do since he or she is, in fact, your favorite author – and you wouldn’t mind adding some of that amazingness to your own work, the Writing Challenge above is the way to go.
Besides, writing styles can always be improved upon. So why not improve yours with one of the greats’?
Editor’s Note: Read the next post on writing style here.