Monday, March 28, 2011

What's Your Writing Style?

Happy Monday, everyone!

We've probably all heard descriptions of writing styles. In my writing classes in college, I was taught sprinter, plodder, and bleeder. Basically, fast, slow, reeeeally slow. (Being a bleeder sounds terrible, btw.)

Probably a sprinter. Look at that smug smile.
And you've probably also engaged in a number of discussions about the merits of being a plotter vs. a pantser, or some hybrid combination of the two.

But last week I stumbled across this blog post that laid out 4 different descriptions of writer types, complete with famous examples. Reading this post changed the way I look at myself creatively. No joke.

The post describes four types:

The Metronomes - freakish (kidding!) writers who steadily hack away at their word counts, day in and day out. Clearly, based on my post last week about how patience has helped me be a better writer (or really, helped me be a writer, period), this isn't my thing AT ALL.

The Seat-Time Nazis - these writers simply force themselves to write every day. I do this, but it is a torture akin to waterboarding.

The Inspirationalists - These writers need to "let their fields lie fallow" between creative projects.

The Tank Fillers - Mark Twain actually coined this term. Writers like this will be merrily working on their novel, and then become completely stuck. They leave the project, work on something else, and later return and discover they have the answer because their creative "tank" had filled up again over time.

Now the tank filler is unquestionably my style of writing, and until I read this description I've only thought of this way of creating as my own fickleness or something. Basically I have a great idea, I write about 15-20k, and then BAM. I'm stuck. I can't move another inch forward. I fret and fume and plot and pace, and finally I leave it and work on something else (feeling like a quitter the whole time). Then a few days or weeks or months later, I'll return to the project, have a flash of inspiration, and dive back in.

Tank Fillers work best on multiple projects simultaneously, because they draw inspiration and motivation from multiple creative outlets, because trust me, if you aren't working on 5-6 novels at a time, finishing one is going to take FOREVER. I've read dozens of times that you shouldn't spread yourself too thin, you shouldn't be scatter-brained, that you should work on one thing at a time, etc etc. So I feel relief to find I'm not the only writer out there who finds this the optimal way to create (well, I still wish I was a metronome).

Lately I'm learning more and more that nobody can tell you the best way to create. You're going to have to figure out your own rhythms and then work with them. I've been trying to force myself to be some combination metronome/time-seat nazi, and while I'm not giving up on the latter yet, I am coming to terms with the fact that I'm probably always going to be a bit of a scatter-brain when it comes to writing books.

And that's okay, I guess.

What's your writing style?

PS ~ Don't forget to enter to win a free copy of WITHER here!


  1. I'd say I'm a tank-filler, but I fill up by reading writing books or watching movies, not by working on other projects.

    I'm a tank-filler, but I'm a plodder about it. I don't dash.

  2. I'm probably an inspirationalist. Can't even contemplate writing unless the muse hit me with a story...


    You lovely blog has won an award on my blog.

  3. I guess that I'm a metronome seat-time Nazi. Boy, that sounds pathetic...

  4. @Connie Hey, ~ I'm jealous. That sounds like the most productive way to write.


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