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On Style: Master Your Writing Style

As I was getting to know Julie Roads through her blog, I remember a couple relatively innocuous or offhand comments that stuck out to me. That’s one of the strange things about blogging — you never know where a reader’s going to start.

So it’s easy to make an offhand reference to something you may have talked about before — maybe even something you’ve run into the ground, like the importance of paragraph styles and document templates — and catch a new writer completely off-guard. The way Julie writes, and as long as she’s been writing, there was a lot of that for me the first few weeks.

One such comment was when she talked briefly about writing software and mentioned, like it was the most normal thing in the world, that writing had never worked for her until she started writing in WordPress. I didn’t get it.

WordPress is nice and all. I’ll recommend it to anyone wanting to start a website. And I do write all my posts in WordPress’s interface (as opposed to, say, using Google Docs or MS Word to write drafts and then copying it over to WordPress when it’s done). It’s good enough, but I couldn’t see anything special about blog software.

That was before I got to know her. That was before I learned that Julie Roads had turned the humble blog post into her own personal artform.

Developing as an Artist

Back when I first thought I might end up talking with Courtney from time to time, one of the first things I did, as a defense mechanism, was read every word of her blog archive so I could be prepared just in case I had to get to know her. With Julie Roads, I’ve reversed that. Sure, I started at her blog, but it wasn’t until we became friends that I really started digging way back in the archive.

By that point I did know about her obsession with the blogstory…so it struck me as something of a surprise to read through her first two or three month of posts without encountering so much as an anecdote.

Obviously, two years have changed that. Maybe she was just warming up, or maybe she didn’t know where she was headed when she started, but somewhere along the way she found her pace, and she’s been holding it strong a while now.

That’s really encouraging, for all of us. Because after three days of hearing what an awesome writer Julie Roads is, maybe you’re wondering if this series has actually got anything to offer you. How about a little guidance?

Following in Her Footsteps

Your job, as I said yesterday, isn’t necessarily to master the blogstory style. It might be worth working on — since you really should be blogging — but that’s not the most important thing in the world. Your job is to become really good at the type of writing you do. And even if the medium is different, the things Julie did to master her craft could help you master yours, too.


Think about the writing you do, within your genre and style. How often do you develop a new document, start to finish?

That’s really one of the most significant factors that determines your skill. And that’s good news! Whatever type of writing you want to do, you don’t have to be great at it now. You just really, absolutely, critically need to get more practice. Practice and practice and practice some more.

That’s one thing blogs really have to offer: iteration. The moment you commit to writing a blog, you’re committed to lots and lots of trial and error. That’s a good thing.

Getting material published as often as possible makes search engines happy and it makes fans happy. It also builds you up over time, incrementally improving what you’re capable of doing, until one day you look back and find yourself the master of an art you weren’t even really working on when you first started.


Once you’ve found a rhythm, as soon as you’re really getting stuff written, find a way to get your stuff read. You eventually need feedback if you’re going to turn trial and error into any kind of progress.

But, more than that, creating a strong connection with your readers can feed you. Writing — especially creative writing — is all about reaching out and touching another life. The better you can do that, the more often you can do that, the better your writing will be.


And when you’re doing it well, when you eventually learn to trust your readers and yourself, you’ll find a whole new level of creative expression. Trust me, I’ve experienced that with the Ghost Targets series, and Julie talks about it all the time at her blog.

In blogging that’s usually called “transparency,” and it’s considered an incredibly valuable asset in building a site. I guess I was participating in a little of that with last Sunday’s post, based on some of the comments I’ve received, but I really didn’t think of it as a “brave” thing to come out and tell my story.

Looking at it critically, though, it was. And that’s not a story I would have told six months ago.

But I’ve had that time to practice telling stories about myself here, though. I’ve gotten feedback and refined my presentation. I’ve made real connections with total strangers, and I’ve discovered I’ve got readers I can trust with some of my best stories.

That’s the process, in a nutshell. I learned it from Julie even as I was learning it from my own experience. It takes time — like so many of the good things in life do — but that’s no reason to get discouraged. It just means you should get started right away.

What kind of writing are you going to do?

4 Responses to “On Style: Master Your Writing Style”

  1. Julie Roads says:

    Thank you, Aaron. For EVERYTHING. Especially for seeing amazing things about me and my writing that I never have. And then for sharing them so eloquently. You are a star.

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      You’re welcome, Julie. Thank you for putting it all out there to be seen.

      I’ve found over and over again that one of the biggest challenges of turning new writers into good writers is just getting them to believe in themselves. Part of it is getting them to believe enough to stick to it, but a bigger part is helping them find what aspect of their style makes them amazing, and have the confidence to chase after that and refine it.

      So it’s helpful to me to stay in the habit of pointing out stuff like that, even for writers who don’t really need my help, and it’s also incredibly convenient for me to have a great object lesson to point to. Because you took yourself through that process, right out in the open and completely on the record.

      So…yeah. Thank you!

  2. Uzma says:

    Thank you for this. It helps me on so many levels. To practise, to be honest, and to keep to one’s style whilst tweaking it to create impact and touch people. Such great points . Thank u for sharing. I still have to gather the courage to tell my story but I will. 🙂

    • Aaron Pogue says:

      You’re most welcome, Uzma, and I’m glad you shared this comment.

      Storytelling can change the world. That makes it a thing worth being a little scared of, but also (definitely) a thing worth figuring out.

      I hope you enjoy your path.