Having a Writing ‘Personanlity’ Crisis? I Am

Have you ever stopped to think about why you write what you do? Why you are drawn to certain genres or styles and not to others? Ever think about why your Voice might be more potent or clear in some works than others?

These are questions I have been pondering for a long time, ever since a writer friend, after reading one of my stories, mentioned how my Voice always came through loud and clear. At the time, I had thought this was great. Like, finally, my writer’s fingerprint was showing through in my work. I also took this as a great compliment, especially after I had been told a while ago that I didn’t have a Voice. But then I started to think: did this mean that all my stories sounded the same? Would readers become bored when they picked up a new story because my work had become predictable? The other thing that came to mind, was that after writing fantasy books for the last few years, I considered myself a fantasy writer, first. What confused me, then, was that none of my current short stories or poems is in that genre–and people seemed to really like them! So did that mean I had mis-cast myself because my writer’s voice, and possibly my talent, was stronger in other genres…?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out. I love writing anything and everything I can. I enjoy having the freedom to pick up a pen or get on a keyboard and write a piece in whatever style or genre feels right for the story that’s trying to burst out of me. When I think of writing, the whole thing is one massive experiment waiting to be tried. How do I know what my limits are if I don’t test them? And of course, if I fail at a challenge, you know I’m going to keep hacking away at it until I get it right. Not to mention that some of my favourite writers, like Margaret Atwood, can write anything, and I have always admired that about her.

But isn’t there a point where a writer has to define some sort of niche for himself or herself?

I guess you could say I’m going through a kind of writer’s ‘personality crisis‘, trying to figure out who I am. One thing I’ve come to realize, is that I gravitate to different genres and styles depending on what it is I want to say at that moment. For novels, which involve a major commitment because of the length of time it takes to complete them, I have to be interested in the project. I get bored easily, so the fact that writing fantasy requires world building, as well as the challenge of making a fantastic story relevant to people in today’s world, makes their creation engaging and challenging. And I love a challenge. But I also saw that when I want to comment on society or the human condition, for example, I’d turn to a more literary-styled short story. Or, if I felt angry or stressed out, I might turn to a horror-based flash fiction. Since writing is an intimate form of communication, these short, genre-styled, mood dependent personality flips makes sense to me: I’m looking to have an immediate conversation with a reader about whatever is on my mind at the time.

So, on one hand, being versatile is extremely rewarding, stimulating and fun, but in the long run, when it comes to defining who I am as a writer, it all seems very muddled. Still, I’m not panicking yet: I’m young in the world of writing, and probably as time goes on I’ll find my niche. Or maybe, I’ll just grow to be content being a writer who just likes to spin yarns according to however and wherever the wind blows.

So what about you? Have you considered any of these questions? What are your thoughts and conclusions?

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About Dyane

Dyane Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. Writing has been a life-long passion and she writes all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction and poetry. Dyane writes to communicate, meaning that writing becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with people on a level deeper than intellect.
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44 Responses to Having a Writing ‘Personanlity’ Crisis? I Am

  1. Thanks for writing about this. It’s something we all struggle with. It takes time to figure out who we are as writers and what our individual style means and is. I have written five novels and sometimes I think I’m still not sure….

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  2. staleybooks says:

    I think you shouldn’t ever stress it. I have always had the firm believe writing should be fun. So if that means writing in every genre so be it! I would never recommend stifling your creative talents just be fit into that preconceived notion of what a writer should be.

    I wish I had your ‘problem’. I fear I will only be able to write in one genre, but I have been experimenting with other genres to bring more depth to my writing.

    Keep up your fantastic work!

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    • Dyane says:

      Thanks for your comments, Stacey. 🙂 I agree that it’s important to not stifle creativity, and I’m also very happy to hear that you like to experiment too!

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  3. These days my preference in reading is sci-fi, dystopian, and post apocalyptic (with ocassional smatterings of othre stuff). In a word I like to read stuff that is a little dark. And my writing is leaning that way too. My current WIP is so worlds away from my published novel An Unproductive Woman that I am actually considering using a pen name.
    I agree that who we are and how we’re feeling about ourselves and the world we live in can seriously affect what we write and in what voice we write it. For me, my fears about the world, our continued racism, our movement away from God, intolerance, wars, cultural bigotry… all of these things have fueled my current WIP. But, I am not worried that this will in any way limit me. I think this is the natural progression of any serious writer.

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    • Dyane says:

      Hi! All excellent as well as encouraging points. And you brought up something I hadn’t thought about: using a pen name. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  4. I feel very defined as a writer. Though, I entered to create something I had never seen. After some number of years, my forty thousand words is exactly as I desired and I feel great. My perseverence established the beginning of Vignette Style writing voicing philosophical narration and the dynamic soul.

    Two things, if you ask me? Personal growth and creative expression. Personal growth is a vital tool and will build voice. Expression is dire, don’t lose traction while maintaining momentum. Anyone can write forever though finding a reader is a moment untouched.

    If you’re a Christian, you know angels. And, Jesus knows you. What do you need right now? Angels? Jesus? Saying I am expresses godliness in your state of being I am God I am. I think, you are at the final stage of one victory while arriving into mystery.

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    • Dyane says:

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I like the points about personal growth and creative expression. Certainly, there is no way I could have written the sorts of things I write now 10 or even 15 years ago: I just didn’t have the life experience. I suspect this process will keep unfolding and I’ll keep tumbling along with it. 🙂

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  5. lol You *know* I’ve asked myself these questions, and unfortunately you’re like me: we overthink EVERYTHING. One, I don’t think all your writing sounds alike. TEG doesn’t sound a thing like Morrow, and your short stories and flash fiction also carry their own flavors. But I know what you mean. I think the answer is it’s critical to develop and continue to develop your own narrative voice, while at the same time challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone to stay fresh as a writer. I wouldn’t overthink it too much, as you might risk becoming too cautious in your writing.

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    • Dyane says:

      lol Me, too cautious! But I know what you mean, and yes, I probably over-think it. But I also think it’s important to know our strengths and who we are as writers so we can invest our time in the right projects, especially big time-eaters like novels. Maybe it’s like going through a Writer’s Adolescence: figuring out who we are so that we can grow into our Adult Writer Selves, lol

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  6. Frank says:

    I can write – and have written – in various voices, but I’m most comfortable and fluent when writing from a first person present tense POV, even (especially) if I’m describing past events. What’s strange is that I’m also much happier writing as a woman… I don’t find genre limiting, but do seem to revolve around vampires and gender identity / sexual orientation.

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    • Dyane says:

      Those are some very interesting combinations. 🙂
      I also noted that you can write in various voices but sense where your comfort zone really lies. I think that’s probably the key: try many things but also get a feel for where your <centre< lies.

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  7. Frank Sayre says:

    Good points to consider. I’ve been writing since 1993. Since 1996 I’ve kept a journal. It’s nearly 2 million words (it’s within a folder, in files of 20-K each). I have learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADD but writing has become therapeutic in every sense. I’ve written two memoirs, the 1st has been self-published and the 2nd, is finished and will be set to go this winter.
    Within my journal I’ve been able to keep practicing the art and skills of writing. I’ve given consideration to the many facets of writing but never attracted to fiction or poetry. Writing the journal helps me grow; I write about the many people I have met over the years. They come alive as I learn through them and the many places I’ve journeyed to. I have given thought, though not much, that one day a story or many will come to past about all those characters. It can be done, but I am no longer young and health issues are at hand.
    So there it is Dyane… some thoughts from an aged mind (I’ll be 70 soon)
    I admire that you have opened to so much. Keep on with self-discovery. That is what I have done all my life. I highly recommend it.

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    • Dyane says:

      As usual, Frank, you have left me an eloquent and insightful answer. 🙂 Writing is a fabulous means by which we can try to understand the world, the people around us as well as our place in it. I think your journal is wonderful too, for growth and self-discovery, as well as a tool to develop the art.
      And thank you. 🙂 I try to be open as I am curious to see where the path will take me.

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  8. Frank Sayre says:

    Thx 4 thee quick reply. As for my blog site and the chapter excerpts:
    brotherhoodeternal.com
    In Articles and Short Stories. Excerpt 3 will come soon.

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  9. j0schmidt says:

    I think there is your voice as a writer, that is your soul, but, like colors, there are different shades and hues. And your voice, Dyane, is definitely all you. And you are developing nicely your different shades and hues.

    I don’t think you have to worry about not being a fantasy writer, because I have seen you nail that, and because there is a lot of continuity between genres of speculative fiction. Sure, there are some differences, but not like it used to be, especially with fantasy. And, I feel like, as a reader, your voice has worked, in its own way, for everything you’ve written.

    And, I completely get that your mood affects your writing, including style and voice. And, for me, I think a good solution to that is just focusing on the story or scene that would best “channel” that mood. If you’re angry, then write the scene where a character is angry, even if for different reasons. But, the best way this works, is (like you said), is when yeah feel strongly about something, like say injustice. That’s when it really helps to write those scenes that you can relate most to, in your mood (state of mind).

    Lol, another way is harder, but can be more fun. Do like an actor and get yourself into that mood, or thinking about that subject for that scenes (say reading about injustice in the news), or like pick the kind of music that fits that mood.

    Lol, I wrote this, not just for you Dyane, but other writers struggling with the same thing 😉

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  10. j0schmidt says:

    Reblogged this on Justin Michael Schmidt and commented:
    I think there is your voice as a writer, that is your soul, but, like colors, there are different shades and hues. And your voice, Dyane, is definitely all you. And you are developing nicely your different shades and hues.

    I don’t think you have to worry about not being a fantasy writer, because I have seen you nail that, and because there is a lot of continuity between genres of speculative fiction. Sure, there are some differences, but not like it used to be, especially with fantasy. And, I feel like, as a reader, your voice has worked, in its own way, for everything you’ve written.

    And, I completely get that your mood affects your writing, including style and voice. And, for me, I think a good solution to that is just focusing on the story or scene that would best “channel” that mood. If you’re angry, then write the scene where a character is angry, even if for different reasons. But, the best way this works, is (like you said), is when yeah feel strongly about something, like say injustice. That’s when it really helps to write those scenes that you can relate most to, in your mood (state of mind).

    Lol, another way is harder, but can be more fun. Do like an actor and get yourself into that mood, or thinking about that subject for that scenes (say reading about injustice in the news), or like pick the kind of music that fits that mood.

    Lol, I wrote this, not just for you Dyane, but other writers struggling with the same thing 😉

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  11. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew you’d written this.

    Just messing with you. The thing to remember is that “voice” is fluid. It’s the expression of who you are, and the events that have affected you … NOW. Your voice will change tomorrow, and it should. If you take a story and write it, then set it aside for a year, you’ll find if you attempt to write the story from scratch, it will be different.

    Writers have been pigeon-holed for decades into a single genre and voice, solely because it made marketing easier for publishing houses. Their thinking was you can’t suddenly produce a grape soda with a Coca Cola label. The result is we were taught that what you are is what you are.

    Then people like Stephen King went from writing “Pet Semetary” to “The Green Mile” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” and all the rules changed. The new rule: if you have the talent, write what you write.

    At this stage, you should still allow yourself to test your wings. Even if you can already fly, you may find the butterfly you thought you were turned out to be an eagle or a dragon.

    I used to only write poetry … until I wrote 3 fantasy novels. I don’t even like fantasy novels that much. Then I wrote fairly hardcore dystopian sci fi, and just finished a detective novel. I’ve written short genres in multiple genres and a few with no genre. I’ve written 3rd-person POV and 1st person as both women and men.

    I’m almost certainly doing it wrong, but I look at it this way: I learned to write by writing business proposals to governments. Writing is writing. You can teach technique, but you can’t teach talent. And talent can never learn to fly unless you unleash its wings.

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    • Dyane says:

      lol Bill! You freaked me out at the first sentence!! Argh, I should have known, lol
      I absolutely agree with everything you said. And I know all of it, but sometimes…you know how it is. A moment of doubt or fear or panic and then everything I know just evaporates and I’m finding my bearings all over again. I know it’s part of the process or ‘gorwing pains’, but in the meantime I find it extremely comforting and grounding to chat with others about it. 🙂 Thanks for being a tent peg today. 🙂

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  12. 90vinitablog says:

    I might be much younger than you to experience , but still my view on it ,don’t pressurize yourself…writing usually comes with a flow …they just pop out of nowhere ..And that’s the beauty of writing ….as far as. you concerned with the writings becoming predictable, if they are coming with the flow, then you shouldn’t worry much about that . The originality would show by…Thanks for the post…I was able to share my views on it.

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    • Dyane says:

      Yes, going with the flow is important as it ensures that what is written comes from the heart.
      I’m very glad you did share your views. Part of the reason for having this blog is to open the doors to communication. 🙂

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      • 90vinitablog says:

        Thank you for responding so quickly!!!….your last line of the comment truly rocks..open the door for communication…..Nicely said

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      • Dyane says:

        Thx! Writing can feel very lonely so it’s important for us to have places where we can connect. That’s why I try to write posts that are honest and close to my heart. Hopefully they will resonate with others. 🙂

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  13. Hi Dyane! I believe you can have a voice that is loud and clear, and not be tied down to one genre. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe that one’s voice has anything to do with the genre one writes. Think of your personality. There are different facets to your personality. You do not behave in a funeral as you would at a party. You do not act at work the way you do at home, but you’re still the same person, and the basic elements of your personality are still there. It’s the same in writing. You can use your voice to write different genres.

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  14. glenperk says:

    I write what I like to read, Dyane. And it’s what I’m most comfortable with. I think typing yourself as a certain genre writer is a big mistake. Just write what you want. As far as voice goes, think of all the writers out there with twenty books with the same characters. Do you think the voice changes in those books? I think not.

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    • Dyane says:

      Yeah I know. I think it was just realizing that people enjoyed the various styles I wrote in, even my experiments, as much as what I had considered myself the best at that, that threw me a little. But I always wanted to be versatile like my ‘idols’ so that’s what I’m still shooting for.

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  15. All of the above Dyane. I go through this every day and I have not even ventured into the writing a book sphere. I think you have to try all the different genres to see what feels like home. Does there have to be niche? I guess like in every other profession it is difficult to spread yourself too wide and not excel at one area. For the time being experiment and enjoy the journey 🙂

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    • Dyane says:

      Yes I love experimenting and trying lots of stuff. Part of me would like to know what I’m ‘really good’ at, you know? If I’m putting my energy into the right things. Still, I love it all so I am just taking things as they come and trying out different ‘suits’ lol. 🙂

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  16. Pingback: Why do we write? Aren’t there enough stories in the world already? | robsparkeswriting

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    • Dyane says:

      Sorry, I just saw this comment today. Thank you so much for your comment, as well as for sharing the blog in your networks. I really appreciate it. 🙂

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