25 May 2012

Are You Writing With Style?

by Winonah Drake

Some writers paint or draw to become more observant of detail, and many artists find that music improves the rhythm and flow of their sentences, but can writers learn anything about art from fashion designers? While flipping through Fashion Design Drawing Course, it became obvious to me that there’s a lot more to it than reinforcing behaviors and tossing fabric on a living coat hanger. The author provided some unique direction on how to identify the best aspects of your work while developing your own style, which applies equally to writing.

You should work freely and treasure your rough ideas (they are often more exciting than an overworked concept) but know which ones to reject.

Writers know when their ideas have potential. Often they’re useful in different places other than they were developed for, or with some fundamental changes. Like the fashion designers, writers have to sacrifice some of their ideas to put more work into the ones they can build on the most.

Show your work to family and friends, and accept their compliments.

Don’t set your standards so high that genuine feedback is meaningless to you. It takes courage to put your work out where it can be judged. But an honest answer from a supportive audience will let you know what to do more of and what doesn’t work.

Don’t be discouraged if other designers or members of your class seem to be producing better work than you-just concentrate on developing your own unique style.

Knowing that you want to be a writer is easy. Finding out what appeals to readers is not. It’s a process. Looking at writers you admire for guidance is helpful, as is looking inward to what inspires you, but the key to good writing is not a formula that someone else wrote. Readers will respond to work that shows a balance of inspiration and expression.

Allow yourself to learn…It is through imitation that you will discover for yourself how to make the best use of the techniques.

Just as in the world of fashion design, writers discover themselves through imitation of what worked for others. An author’s voice develops when s/he becomes confident in talking to readers. Your niche won’t be obvious until you’ve had some minor successes. The raw material of each is the success of others; how their writing spoke to you, and how you developed into someone who can contribute to the world of ideas.

A good designer is always curious, always pushing the boundaries. It is only through trial and error that truly original ideas will emerge.

Curiosity defines a writer as well. You write because something caught your interest. If a story or an idea has not been written about before, a new means of expression might be needed. In writing, this has lead to all the formats we’re familiar with plus innumerable genres and works targeted to every demographic. Ingenuity by writers willing to risk missing the mark has resulted in writing that speaks to everyone in an ever-changing world.

Don’t be too fixed in your definition of “success”…So long as you know what the rules are, it can be fun to break them sometimes.

Hearing those words from a successful fashion designer should encourage any aspiring artist. Writers know we need to follow the steps to make our work relevant, but doing so might threaten our creativity at first. Once you can look objectively at what will appeal to your audience, you can change the content without making the piece irrelevant.

Some people will love your work, others will hate it-all you can do is try to be true to your own special take on the world.

Publication is a huge success, but it’s only the beginning. That’s when you discover whether or not your writing hit the mark. Family and friends probably provided your first subjective feedback for longer works, then editors gave you objective criticism to make it appeal to more people. If you publish, you want your ideas to join those of others who’ve inspired you. Doing it means you’re brave. But now you have to put your feelings aside to filter out reactions from your audience. Those who read should be looking for what you’re trying to say. Any other motive can’t produce feedback that can help your writing.



  1. Lovely post. Personally relevant, as well. Thank you for the demonstration of gleaning information from one discipline and applying it to another. :)