Last Halloween, I got back into writing fiction after spending a while (probably less than a year) where I didn’t really write prose fiction. Before that, I’ve had other times where I didn’t write fiction for 1-2 years.
So, I thought that I’d look at the question of whether your writing style changes if you don’t write fiction for a while.
In short, it both does and doesn’t. When I wrote my Halloween stories, I noticed that they contained a mixture of writing styles rather than just one consistent “style”.
Several of them contained elements from various older versions of my writing styles – for example, this story sounds a lot like something I would have written in 2009-10 and this one sounds like a slightly improved version of something I would have written in 2005-7.
As well as this, some stories also sometimes contained elements from the slightly formal style that I use when I write these daily articles. This was especially interesting, since I found that I could write some stories a lot quicker if I made them sound a bit like a non-fiction article (like I did in this story and this one).
Not only that, my regular non-fiction writing and art/comic making practice also meant that I had all sorts of techniques for dealing with writer’s block/ uninspired moments that I didn’t have when I used to see myself primarily as a fiction writer.
So, some skills can transfer from other creative things that you may have been doing instead of writing fiction. This may or may not affect your writing style.
In the end, whether your writing style will or won’t change if you haven’t written any fiction for a while all comes down to experience and practice. If you’ve been doing other writing-related things in the meantime, then this will probably have some effect on your writing style.
Likewise, if you’ve read anything that uses a writing style that you really like, then parts of that style are probably going to seep into your own writing style when you get back into writing again.
However, if you’re out of practice, then your natural instinct will probably be to “pick up where you left off”. In other words, it’s very likely that you won’t completely lose or forget your old writing style. Because of all of your past experience with writing, you’re probably going to unconsciously end up using a similar style to the styles that you used to use.
Plus, if you haven’t practiced for a while, then your style is probably going to have all of the same flaws that it used to have. In my case, this is an annoying tendency to use rather “functional” narration if I’m writing fast. Likewise, I sometimes tend to over-use certain descriptions and sentence structures. So, you’ll probably end up keeping most of the flaws from your original style if you’re out of practice.
In addition to all of this, you have to take the fact that you haven’t practiced into account too. If you practice a skill regularly, then it soon becomes fast, fluent and intuitive. It becomes something that is almost second nature.
This feeling can go away a bit if you haven’t practiced for a while. As such, don’t expect the very first thing you write after you haven’t written for a while to be as flowing, eloquent or polished as the things you used to write.
Getting back to that level of skill and that distinctive style may take a little bit of practice, although it’ll probably take considerably less time that you would have to spend if you had no prior experience.
Still, this is probably different for everyone. I’ve been talking a lot about my own experiences and trying to find general lessons in them. But, I guess that the only real way to see if your style has changed or not is to try writing something.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂