One of my favorite quotes is from a songwriter I love, who said that every song has to pass three tests before he puts it on an album. He asks “is it good?”, “is it me?”, “do I like it?”, and then he has to say yes to all three. On the surface, those seem like the same question, but it turns out they’re quite different.
I’m starting to reach the point where I’ve written enough to know what is “me” and what isn’t. Or at least I’m getting close. Developing a style is hard, because there really is a difference between liking something and it being an extension of you. I like a lot of different things…that’s kind of the point of life, after all. I like jazz and horror movies and football, but none of those will ever inﬂuence my art. They’re not my style. But what is? The only way to ﬁgure it out is to keep making stuff, and then look at what you like and what you don’t. When you do more of the things you like, you eventually start to see patterns. Then you think about your own personality, and think about what you can offer to the world that nobody else can, and things start to get clearer.
I have an inﬁnitely better understanding of my own style going into 2020 than I did going into 2019. Now I’m trying to get better at being consistent. I’ve formed something that resembles a worldview, and I want to make sure that it shows through in everything I do. When I write a script and ask myself “is it me?,” I can actually begin to answer. It’s a pretty great feeling.
I’ve come to value consistency in a person more than almost anything else. A writer or musician who knows himself is going to do better work than someone who doesn’t. Sure, you might experiment with different genres, but you should always be writing in your own voice. It means knowing what you do well and knowing what you do poorly. I’d have more respect for a politician I hate who has an intellectually consistent worldview than someone I like who contradicts themselves. I hope I never stop evolving and getting better, but now that I’ve learned what I am, I’d like to focus on being it for a while.
Writer With a Style