Each of us has our own writing style, unique because it comes from you and no one else. I believe we all have different writing styles, at least subtly. There may be similarities to someone else in little ways because we draw inspiration from others but as long as you're not plagiarizing, yours will hold its own uniqueness because you wrote it. We have our own way of stating things, our own unique ideas, our own style in the way we write, and a different creative mind than other people.
When writing my first few novels, I wrote without any kind of outline or even much of an idea of where the stories would go. Having zero training on how to write a novel, I was completely winging it with no real direction. I felt the ideas and direction would come to me as I wrote, which is how it happens for the most part now but my process and approach to a novel has changed some since the first time.
To begin with, I write very linearly. If I was stuck on something within a chapter, I would stay stuck until I worked it out. I would not think of moving forward until that piece was complete, then I could move on with the story. It had to happen in the proper sequence, just as I was thinking it. Nowadays, I do allow myself some flexibility. If I get stuck on something, I will move on to another piece of the story. That is something else that has changed, the fact that I know more of what is to happen in the upcoming chapters of the story. When I first started, I really knew nothing of the story until it popped into my head but now, I like to look a little bit ahead for direction.
These days, I will start the novel then take a little time to chart out my next chapters. I do not lay out the entire book, not by any means. I will maybe think ahead to the next few chapters as I write but not too far ahead. Sometimes it is only a few chapters and other times, if I am on a roll and want to get my thoughts down while they are fresh, I can set up the next 10 or 15 chapters. That is not to say that I will stick to those chapters the way I initially write them down. It is almost a guarantee I will be changing, rearranging, and even deleting some of the chapters I initially wrote out. It pays to be flexible and as my knowledge of writing and experience grows, I am learning to let things change as my process changes. Go with the flow, as they say.
Currently, as of this post, I have 8 fiction novels completed and in the editing phase and 2 other books. One is a non-fiction memoir of sorts (which I may change to a fiction novel) and the other is a book of fiction short stories. The book of short stories is kind of an ongoing project. I enjoy taking a break from writing novels or if I get majorly stuck on something while writing a novel, I will pull up my short story ideas and write one of those. Shake loose the brain and allow me to think of something else for a while. It usually helps to get me back on track for my novel. It is a nice change of pace and gives me a whole new subject to explore, in only 4-12 pages, or thereabout.
When I began writing, I would never have dreamed of having multiple novels going at once. As I said, I write my stories in a linear fashion. I had to finish one before even thinking of starting another even though I had a bunch of ideas for my next novels. The exception was I could get involved in a short story at the same time but not another novel. One at a time only! Not so much anymore. I have multiple novels going at once but I am finding it may not be such a good idea to work this way. In one aspect, it is nice that if I get stuck on one, I can jump to the other and continue writing. The problem is, I am not devoting the kind of undivided time I should to any story.
I am finding I enjoyed it more when I wrote just one story at a time and gave all my focus to that one storyline. I could stay much more focused on one story and work out the details instead of having two or three stories running around my head at once. You get into a zone when you work on a story and everything is about that story. If I jump to another, it throws me off some and I am not giving any of them their needed focus. At times, I get details confused between them. I need to go back to that ‘one book at a time’ in my process.
Another change I have noticed in my process as I continue to write is paying attention to the common mistakes I made earlier on in my writing career. The fact I try to read about this process often helps me to grow and to change the way I do things. Working through my daughter’s editing has helped tremendously to see the mistakes I make (some over & over!) and to correct those in my current writing. There is a lot of great information out there on writing techniques, do’s & don’ts, proper format and so many other things. As I learn, I try to incorporate these things to make my stories stronger, to make my writing better. Just organically my writing has gotten better with each project I tackle but I think that is the same for everyone.
The process is fun to observe as it evolves the longer I write. I’m sure all novelists go through the same thing. With anything we do long enough in life, our process is bound to change as we learn what works best. We never stop learning and if that is true for all of you, you will never stop changing things, like your process with writing. There are always better or more appropriate ways to do things and if you put into practice what you learn, your process will evolve over time. I know mine will continue to change over time and hopefully, it will get me to the place that works best for me when I write. I am close, that I feel, but I know there are other changes for me that are down the road and I look forward to incorporating them into my work process.
Happy reading, happy writing!