How do you develop a unique writing style?

Dear Litarary Ladies,
How does one develop a unique writing style? I’m not an especially gifted wordsmith, so I thought if I came up with a style that sets me apart, I wouldn’t agonize so much over finding the time to hone my skills, or lack thereof.

I simply don’t believe in style. The style is you. Oh, you can cultivate a style, I suppose, if you like. But I should say it remains a cultivated style. It remains artificial and imposed, and I don’t think it deceives anyone. A cultivated style would be like a mask. Everyone knows it’s a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself—or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind. . . You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is emanation from your own being.

—Katherine Anne Porter
from Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1963


Ricki October 14, 2009 at 9:39 AM  

That is such a Porter comment! This from the woman who cultivated the ultimate public persona! (Gotta love her. . .).

Eileen Williams October 15, 2009 at 8:12 AM  

I agree with Porter, a cultivated style would be like wearing a mask. Although we all have a certain persona we share with the outer world, sooner or later our true being comes out. The same is with writing. Trying to create something that doesn't come naturally will inevitably fail anyway, so why not just be yourself?

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Wouldn't you love to get advice from  classic women authors on writing and the writer's life? Here I fancifully pose the questions, and the Literary Ladies answer in their own words.

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