There is something both deeply authentic and inherently practical about finding the writing structures that suit you best.
Sometimes it means unlearning the structures that have been imposed on us.
You may already use a designated structure for your professional writing: correspondence, reports, proposals. And of course, we all learned structures in school: narrative, recount, informational, procedural, persuasive and explanatory.
As a journalist, I was used to structures for short form news stories or longer ones for current affairs. In the high-pressure TV environment, they made it quicker and easier to produce the high volume of content needed.
Yet those structures constricted me when I began writing for my own purposes. They were an impediment to my authentic voice in blog posts, newsletters and even on social media. I didn’t even realise I was writing to learned structures but I could see that my work came across as stilted and artificial.
Maybe you’ve had the same experience?
Don’t let it stop you writing. It may annoy you, frustrate you, sadden you but don’t let the wrong structure stop you.
I’ve worked my way through it – you can too.
Finding the right structure is a journey of discovery:
It’s ok to look around and find role models whose writing you love and would like to match. Adopting their structure doesn’t mean you’re copying as long as you bring your own insights and experience to the content itself.
To truly explore another writer’s structure, you can literally take a paragraph of their work and follow the same rhythm and use of conventions (such as sentence structure) to write about your own topic. It will reveal a lot about whether or not their structure will work for you.
Once you’ve been writing for a while ‘in the style of’, you must take the time to pause and reflect on how it feels. Is their structure going to work for you? Or can you bring in some tweaks that fit better, maybe inspired by other writers or something you just feel is right. Trust your instincts.
As well, remember to make sure you haven’t started to judge your own voice and find it wanting. Don’t compare your beginning stages with someone else’s mastery. It’s unkind and unproductive.
Your style and structure will evolve if you practise patience, curiosity and self-compassion. What you will most likely find is that you have several structures that will suit different needs. And don’t be concerned if you find you outgrow current structures and have to begin the journey of discovery all over again.
New growth is underway.