Published: Jun 30, 2016 12:00:00 PM

Ghost_Little_Facebook_Thumbnail_Logo_Photo.pngStyle is impossible. You can mimic it, but then the mimicry becomes it's own style. Knowing that, I'm somtimes not sure what I can teach anybody about developing a writing style. It comes from an invisible place. Sometimes it escapes to another place, abandoning you.

It's an odd situation. I can tell you how a style is developed, but then it'll be up to you to grab onto what you can and see what spins forth for your writing, your blog, and your style.

Begin at the beginning:

A Blog Style Guide Is Required

I have a few strict rules for my blog. I have been blogging since I was young, dating back to college. For context, this was before the first iPhone was released. Try to imagine that planet. Then imagine me limping to a cohesive writing process, year after year.

Ghost Little alone has existed for five years at this point. Other efforts came before that. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, myself, gigantic money managers, researchers, academics, myself again, websites, marketing companies, sales blogs, and even the fucking Thought Catalog once or twice.

I hadn't establish every rule at the start of all that. They came with time. Feel free to do the same for yourself. In fact, now is the time to begin the list.

Be patient with your blog style development

This can't be stressed enough. I've spoken to thousands of business owners and heads of marketing and sales departments in my career. They are eager, strong people. They are also often afraid of their own shadows. The mental sight of their towering 5th grade teacher or creative writing professor thick-brushing their work with red ink maintains a hard-lined silhouette in their minds. Criticism is immediate and crippling for them.

Recovery time is slow.

I offer no advice, only that you will either continue, or you will not continue. Be patient with yourself. How people muster the patience for golf and cannot be bothered to develop a blog style is beyond me.

If you are teaching others on your team or company how to fit together into a collective blog style guide, everybody must be patient.

Mimic the weirdos

There are a billion blogs out there. Most of them carry no style whatsoever. This is disappointing. When did the internet hivemind decide there was only the one vocabulary online? The one set of jokes? The one mythology? The one lexicon? How do we even absorb that information?

Gross, man.

It stems from the internet's self-love and crocodile lockjaw on its anonymity. Being anonymous weakened the internet's writing style. Everyone wanted to be heard, but wanted to be able to retreat into the shadows in case their mom discovered they had used an f-word inappropriately.

This made everyone weird, safe normals. It reduced the visibility of actual, needlepoint-sharp weirdos and their writing. Whenever you discover somebody with an uncharacteristic writing style online, follow their work. Subscribe and observe. You'll pick up style traits. You'll learn irreverence. All are important.

I won't point you toward any weirdos to follow. This is part of the exercise. You need to seek them out. Be mindful when you come across them. Learn to notice them.

Process that weirdness and apply it to your own blogging. Encourage others around you to do the same. Let's flush the internet's incestuous writing gene pool.

Start writing every day

People struggle with calling themselves writers. Do people struggle calling themselves guitarists or cyclists? The ones who pick at strings or go for a meaningless ride every day don't. Turn yourself into a writer. Become confident. Write every day. It will make you bold enough to criticize your own work. Other writing's successes and failures will become more obvious. Write too much and you might start enjoying yourself.

I say "start" "writing" every day. I didn't say "blog every day." That comes later. Blogging requires preparation and some light technical ability. Acquainting yourself with your own writing-brain comes first.

It all comes back to patience. You wouldn't take up a career in crime by robbing a bank on your first day. You'd start stealing smaller things. Same goes for developing your blog's style. Start small, but you must begin, and you will either continue, or you won't.

Become comfortable with your own weird voice. Start putting it out there. Let the regularity be your security blanket, if you fear external criticism.

The rest will make sense in time.

-- Alex Crumb
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