Does Style = Boredom?

December 12, 2009 § 23 Comments

I’ve been paying more attention to my study of Judaism these past few months. In my Melton class – I’m a second year student – the pieces are beginning to form into something understandable. I have no (underline no) religious training, so this Bible and Torah study is fascinating. Religion fascinates me generally, but who knew I’d enjoy this?

Enough rambling. With my studies, and the advent of Hanukkah – last night was the first night – I reconnected with my favorite Austin on-line read, Drash Pit.

I also wrote – about undressing (is that enough of a tease?) and my #dealbreakers .  The problem is that I’ve noticed that I have a predictable style when I write these pieces. Which means I need to change the next one(s) up.

Oh, well, I needed another challenge, right? And I’m curious about your take on style when you write short pieces. Is it important to change it up? And how do you determine when your writing has become too much of the same thing?

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§ 23 Responses to Does Style = Boredom?

  • Yes, I’m afraid that my memoir writing has become predictable, so it needs to change. But I will say that it has borrows from my blogging style, which I’m OK with.

    I’m really quite lazy, which may be the real issue.

  • Julie says:

    If I don’t get much time to write, then I forget how I wrote last. If that makes any sense. Guess I need to look and see if my styles have changed at all in the years. I know my fiction is different than my essay, which is different than my journals, etc.

    I, too, enjoy the study of religion. Always amazed at what I don’t know.

  • purple says:

    A few thoughts … my impression of the blogosphere is that most of us are still nice first, as in non-critical (and that is always meant as constructive never destructive, personal attacks). Many writing groups online allow this kind of raw, often highly opinionated feedback and sometimes it is genuinely useful in some way if we receive it in the spirit without reacting negatively to someone else’s opinion — ultimately, this is ALL it can be no matter who they are. No one else can tell you how to be the writer you are, period.

    Your voice, style, is uniquely your own. How fluidly you vary that from one thing to another is something, a skill, that can be learned, practiced, strengthened, and maybe even perfected.

    As for experimenting and exploring and playing with how you write — GO FOR IT!! There isn’t one right or wrong way to write. If you are able to identify “I write this way” then ask questions, explore how you might change it, such as the suggestions shared already (changing tense, point of view, or perhaps gender, age, whatever you can think of to change is worth exploring). I do not believe we are fixed in cement in anything — although our “true voice” will probably always find a way of exerting itself in everything we write.

    Since you mentioned creative non-fiction, I am assuming this may mean personal writing, memoir, and even within this genre there is so much lattitude for experimenting I think. It all depends on you, your purpose, how you wish to write and come across to an audience, assuming there even is one. I’ve kept a journal since I was 16 and I have tried any and every idea for this kind of personal writing, straight narrative (factual and sometimes creatively fictionalized as well) to dialogues, to unsent letters and other literary devices to dig for and get down the words and memories.

    So, many words, but the summation: STRETCH & PLAY! Hope I have shared something encouraging and useful in some way.

  • seanfraser says:

    Happy Christmas vacation Pamela

  • Vicki says:

    I’m not a writer , but I do love reading your work! I think if you always write from your heart in an authentic way….the style is then perfect!

    By the way, I think its so cool that you’ve been studying Judaism. I took a two year course and loved every moment of it!!! So much to know!

    Happy Hanukkah Sweetie!

    Hugs

  • If you write in first person, try in third person (or vice versa).
    If you write in the present, try writing in the past.

  • The writing I do (not so much lately) always seems to evolve, so I don’t know if I’ve ever settled on a style. But I do read a lot (including this blog), so I think I am still deciding what sounds good to my ‘ear.’

  • I personally analyze everything too much in real life and especially my writing in ‘real’ life. It’s easy to know when my work related writing is a success because the company will buy it; the people will watch it and hopefully buy the product. With this blog thing…it’s so hard to know. How many people actually enjoy my writing…..or are just swap meeting comments? You know what I mean?

    • Scott, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve wondered the same thing. Maybe we need to create a “OK, tell me what you think of this piece” blog.

      It’s great for my ego to hear compliments – and I love it – but the question about quality remains. Then again, pleasure is in the eye of the reader, so who knows?

  • Neil Reid says:

    In this order, “And how do you determine when your writing has become too much of the same thing?”

    Do you really think about this so deliberately Pamela? :) I write more from feeling than from thought. While I might argue with thoughts, not with feelings. Thoughtfulness while certainly participant, sits in the back seat, not the front. However the real answer is simply, in that moment, sitting with pen in hand, ask yourself that question and accept the answer that rises to the top. Do that. Any more studied approach to answering may likely just produce artifacts, not the genuine sense of yourself. Measured or predetermined structures have their place and time, but I think, more as tools to get you to a place where you have surrendered thinking-about-it, and simply write instead.

    Pardon if I reference my first source in the ways of writing, William Stafford.

    “Writing is a reckless encounter with whatever comes along.

    Poems don’t just happen. They are luckily or stealthily related to a readiness within ourselves. …A good rule is – don’t respond unless you have to. But when you find you do have a response – trust it. It has a meaning.”

    Where are you gonna put your attention? Trust yourself. You’ve demonstrated a wonderful craft and willingness to express yourself in poems. Some measure of doubt just comes with the territory (life, poetry, whatever). But that’s not where there’s purpose shining a light (horse THEN cart). I gotta think you already know! I’ve read most all your poems here I think. THEY certainly know what they are doing.

    And style vs form? Maybe that’s the question here? All these prompts we do, they push for us to play with form more than style I think. Style is a way of using language, per the big book. Unavoidable. And you (many of us) already have a recognizable style that way. Your language is already inside of you, the way you look and respond to life, all very personally yours. You couldn’t not have style if you wanted to! But form? Just something to play with as it serves your greater purpose. And still, in the moment, you contain the answers to that. Who else is gonna tell you what and how?

    I was writing to someone else recently, said, there is something beneath the words, the phrases, beneath the style if you wish, something maybe I like to call your “stance” within life. That is intimately who you are in life.

    The question then becomes, what is your purpose in writing? If you are serving that purpose, then let the rest land where it will or may. It will be right for you. Reading your poems, I trust your sense of yourself and what you write. What more to worry about? The only right answer is already inside of you, the one who answers when you ask.

    I don’t care about the shapes, more than I choose to do; I care about the results they produce. And it is that funny thing – only my own sense counts to me, yet also, I care about how what I write is received, what value it might set seed. You gotta just sit with both being so! Ha!

    And all that said, yep, I do try to look at things unexpectedly – sometimes it takes the shape of words or style, in part to unsettle the common view, shake something loose – for myself as much the reader. But really I consider that more form than otherwise. Some friends say they can identify my poems by the way I write. I don’t consider that a fault, just who I am inside the words. So all this is to say – do what you want and that will be fine. Big help I am! :)

    (How’s that for rambling?) I like what you write. Very much! Does that help?

    • That’s great rambling! I agree with about feeling and poetry, and am struggling with creative non-fiction (I should have been more clear). But when you say accept the answer that rises to the top, then I must accept that if I asked the question, I know the answer, and the answer is “yes.” I need to stretch.

      The question is to where or what? That will be fun to play with.

  • G says:

    I think I consciously try to change up my writing style from time to time. I do know that I have multiple writing styles depending on what I’m doing at a given time.

    How I write in chat rooms is completely different that my blogging, which is very different from how I write short stories.

    Since I’ve found a comfortable writing style for my longer short stories (incredibly descriptive and sexually flavored), when I want to change up for shorter stuff, I found that going more clean and spiritual usually is the perfect challenge for me.

    And of course, when I’m doing work related stuff, I found that I need an editor (my supervisor) to help me successfully navigate the minefield known as sensitive egos. As blunt as my writing is, there really is no place for my normal writing style to bleed over in.

    • G, I appreciate how you are able to clearly define your styles. I bet it would be helpful for me to see if I could do that. That way I could see if they fit the topic.

      And I get the need for an email editor. About once a year I get called on the carpet for a message sent in a fit of rage/resentment/anxiety. Although I may have made it this last year with our doing so. Which means I’m due. Damn.

  • My artistic niche is photography but I have written and continue to write creatively on an irregular basis. I agree that it depends on what you’re writing as whether or not a certain style is warranted. However, I think having your own style is important. It helps identify a writer: it is part of who we are, reflects our way of thinking, seeing people, issues, the world around us, personifies our creative bent, acts as our beacon through those long dark lonely nights of composition.

    And like many other aspects of our lives, it’s something we’ve settled into, a comfortable habit, something that can change with topic, effort or purpose. While I firmly believe writers and all artists should try different styles in an effort to learn and grow, I think having a style of our own helps us focus on the task at hand, guiding us to fruition in whatever creative medium we endeavor to embrace.

    As for when enough is enough, as long as the purpose and artistic vision of the piece is achieved to the satisfaction of the writer, there is never enough style. If a work reads like it’s in a rut, the writer should go back to the drawing board and work it til it reads and feels fresh and to the point. Yes, I know, easier said than done…

    (btw love the snowfall effect)

    • Marc, I agree. And (flinchingly) I think I’m referring to the rut. Which means you’ve given me your answer. :-)

      WordPress’s holiday present to its bloggers every year is short-term snowfall if we want it. I love it, since it rarely snows in Texas.

      Hope those boots are holding up!

  • I think to an extent, style is part of who you are. Certain words or phrasings or the way you structure your sentences. I think anyone who is used to my style of writing can easily pick it out of a line up even if I try to change it up. Having said that, I so have variations depending on what I’m writing. My blogs are totally different from my novels and my novels are totally different than my business dealings.

    • Claire, have you written anything like biographical essays or articles? (I wasn’t clear about the genre I was referring to.) I meant should the style change within the genre so as not to bore the reader.

  • bschooled says:

    I think it depends on what you’re writing.

    Personally I get bored of writing the same thing, but I think that’s because I have the attention span of a goldfish.

    My problem is that I barely ever follow through whenever I try to write in different styles. I just end up with a bunch of half-written pieces lying around.

    I really need to work on that…

    • bschooled, I have some decent (almost) short stories that are dying slow, miserable deaths because I’m ignoring them. Too much work. But they deserve better.

      I’ll work on that too. And I still think MAD TV or Saturday Night Live need you.

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