Each of us has a unique way of putting words together.
“I never consciously tried to develop a ‘style,’ but I have a lot of limitations as a writer. And those limitations may as well be described as ‘style’ – it’s probably the kindest term available.” – Sally Rooney
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As writers, we have our buzzwords, stylistic pet peeves, and preferred sentence structures.
Combined, these make up your unique voice and tone — the two components of a writing style.
- A voice conveys your personality. It also serves as the lens through which you’re telling the story.
- A tone conveys the attitude and emotions you’re trying to project through your writing.
Both are important for making your writing more memorable, compelling, and relatable to a particular type of reader.
Your writing style also sets you apart from other writers.
Hemingway is well known for this choppy, factual, matter-of-fact writing style. His word choices are more casual and conversational. He says more things with fewer words — and he advised other writers to trim the verbose when necessary:
“If a writer of the prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows, and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.”
J. K. Rowling, on the contrary, uses compound complex, declarative, simple past, and active voice in the Harry Potter series. Her sentence structure and word choices made the writing sound rhythmic. Rowling also employs figurative language extensively, using similes and metaphors quite often.
“Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors.”
Analyzing (and adopting) another person’s writing style is crucial if you’re eying up ghostwriting or corporate communication jobs. Most employers expect you to follow the provided style guide, which spells out the preferred tone of voice and brand personality.
At the same time, style analysis helps you better understand how other authors and brands spin a unique personality with words. Then use their “tricks” to develop your unique, memorable voice.
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Writing Tip of the Week
🧪 Experiment with different writing styles. This week's tip (or rather — a creative exercise) comes from Jason Hewett.
His LinkedIn post is a fantastic example of how a different tone of voice makes the same piece of writing sound very different.
Challenge yourself to write a short copy using another brand’s (or author’s) voice and tone.
Best Writing Examples
Discover sharp copy, inspiring quotes, and powerful messaging from the best apps, websites, magazines, and books.
Jollie’s socks copy relies on a cozy metaphor to convey the quality of its products. In copywriting, metaphors help the reader visualize an intangible concept. They provide a clear picture of your offering and make your message more persuasive.
Oatly is another personality-driven brand that loves throwing in a pop-culture reference. The extra genius of this self-mocking ad is its precise positioning toward one target audience — baristas.
Finn uses rhythmic wordplay (trusted and trusty) to create a catchy slogan. Words that swing and swirl sound more appealing to our brain, that’s obsessed with patterns.
Favorite stories from all around the web.
🏆 Rising to high editorial expectations. Behind every good writer stands a dozen of equally incredible editors who coached them through the years to do better. Kaleigh Moore lifts the curtain on the rigorous editorial processes teams at Forbes, Copyhackers, and other top-tier publishers have. A must-read for anyone looking to improve their writing chops.
💩 Embrace bad writing. They say talent is 99% hard work and 1% — natural abilities. To become great, you must power through the Necessary Mess, as Stephanie Flaxman puts it. In other words: Give yourself room to be sloppy, write without a logical structure, and ignore some grammar rules. Once the messy version is ready, focus on shaping it into the best version of your writing.
💸 Why do so many people undercharge? You, I – we all charged less for our writing services than we should have (likely more than once). This post from Vox explains why people in the gig economy struggle to determine their true worth. Spoiler: Psychology and your personal background have to do a lot with that.
😶🌫️ How to get rid of writer’s block. The next time you’ll find yourself staring at a black Google doc, try Amanda Gorman’s signature recipe for battling writer’s block. As a published poet, who spoke her verse during Biden’s inauguration, she knows a thing about getting unstuck even under pressure.
Handy apps and helpful software for growth-driven writers.
Charlie. Tired of reading through the click-bait, emotion-eliciting, ultra-dramatic doomsday-is-coming news titles. Charlie is an AI news summarizing chatbot delivering you essential news sans drama.
AtomPay. On the market for another payment processing app? Look into AtomPay — a Venmo-like payment app that lets you share payment links in seconds. No crazy-long onboarding for freelancers or mandatory registrations for people sending you money.
Pun Generator does exactly what the name says — gives you clever word plays and rhymes for typed-in words. This app is a great helper if you’re working on slogans, ads, or some cheeky sales copy.
Otter.ai. Interviewing is a significant part of writing. Otter.ai is a browser add-on that lets you record audio from meetings and get it almost instantly transcribed by AI. Or you can upload pre-recorded audio/video files. The transcription accuracy is excellent — and the cost is less than the transcription services charge.
Food for Thought
“Perfectionism at its core isn't about high standards. It's about fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking stupid, fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged, criticized, and ridiculed. It's the fear that one simple fact might be true: You're just not good enough.” – Marie Forleo
“If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.” – George Orwell
“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs.” – Frank Luntz
Did You Know?
⏰ Writers who get up at dawn are more likely to snatch a Pulitzer award or Nobel prize for writing.
Maria Popova of The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings) created an infographic mapping the writers’ snoozing habits to the number (and type) of awards they got. Early rises like Haruki Murakami, Sylvia Plath, and Toni Morrison are statistically more accomplished than late sleepers like James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Bukowski.
That’s just a fun observation, though. Not a research-backed recipe for winning a Pulitzer.
Best Writing Jobs
Find your next writing job, freelance gig, or side hustle.
- Full-Time Copy Editor, Commerce at Blavity (Remote)
- Contract Writing Creator at Contra (Remote)
- Freelance Journalist/Blogger at Kayak (Remote)
- Full-Time Lead Writer at Afterpay (Remote)
- Contract Content Writer at Seal Commerce (Remote)
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Until next week,
Co-founder, Best Writing