How can I develop a distinctive writing style?

Katherine Anne Porter

Dear Literary Ladies,
How do I go about developing a distinctive writing style—one that will catch editors’ attention, and that readers everywhere will recognize as my unique voice?

I’ve been called a stylist until I really could tear my hair out. I simply don’t believe in style. The style is you. Oh, you can cultivate a style, I suppose, if you like. But I should say it remains a cultivated style. It remains artificial and imposed, and I don’t think it deceives anyone. A cultivated style would be like a mask.

Everyone knows it’s a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself—or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind . . . You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is emanation from your own being.  (— from Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1963)

Any writer worth talking about, no matter how original [she] seems, can be placed within a tradition; there was somebody before [her] who prepared the way … The tradition you belong to is something you can’t select for yourself: your own temperament will simply lead you to a certain path.

Here’s more writing advice from Katherine Anne Porter:

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Katherine Anne Porter quote

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