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Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page

What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.

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We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

Today’s twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

Earlier in Writing 101, both Michelle and I have talked about voice: that elusive element that sets you apart from every other writer out there. Style, however, is different. Your writing style might affect your voice, but ultimately style and voice aren’t the same thing.

While your voice is your own, and something that’s innately you, style is much broader. You might prefer long and complex sentences, or sentences with a lot of commas and layers building upon each other, or perhaps intentional run-ons and thoughts bleeding into the next and no pauses and lots of imagery and never-ending moments that run onto the next page.

Or, you might write short sentences. Fragments, even. Simple prose.

Think back to your assignment on sentence lengths. What kinds of sentences do you prefer, or find yourself writing naturally?

Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it.
To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.

— Charles Bukowski

Novelist Raymond Chandler also called style the most durable thing in your writing — “a projection of personality, the product of emotion and perception.” While writers have their own styles, style can be mimicked — you can approach a piece intentionally to create a certain effect. (We once asked writers to write in Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo style — take a peek for inspiration.)

If you need a boost, consider these examples of style: Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las VegasErnest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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  1. I think I completely misunderstood the challenge for today. And completely overlooked the idea of anxieties and fears. Mostly, I’ve spent the past many years putting them down. So perhaps I don’t even recognize the words???? That was interesting to think about.
    So anyway, I submitted a poem. In my voice by in another style. Or something. So kudos to all of you who followed the rules.. (oh, yeah, another thing I’m not so good at doing…..:)

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  2. I didn’t quite get this one, since I skipped the assignment related to this. Anyway, for Day 17, here you go.

    “But I learned that when you wage a war with respect and self-worth, and all you’ve got is love to defend you, you are at the losing end. For respect and self-worth is paramount to love and happiness. When you begin to become well aware of how much you mean to life as a whole and to others, love and happiness are sure to follow suit.”

    http://mmariagano.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/from-one-fear-to-another-rambling-thoughts/

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  3. A very interesting idea, I haven’t given a thought on how I write.. most of the times I simply write anything without really minding the rules, but i cannot deny the fact that oftentimes it’s necessary to be aware on how those rules works.

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  4. This is such an interesting thing to think about – I’m not sure what I prefer! I feel like I play with style when I write to match different kinds of writing. Some pieces need to flow, and others require some open space in between the pieces, so I’ll favor a choppier style. I wonder if it’s better to develop a cohesive style, or to have a variable tool chest.

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