Carol Harrison believes it is important that we develop our own creative style rather than copy someone else’s. Read why.
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Style – the word often brings to mind fashion or home decor. These are part of style. I have a friend that has a great fashion sense and knows how to pull together an outfit, including accessories on a shoe string budget. She has the same talent when it comes to decorating her home and is willing to come and “play” at my house by putting things together that I already own and giving my place a fresh new look. She is also willing to help her friends, like myself, when I have no idea how to look “put together” when I go out to speak.
She does not try and make me be and look like her or anyone else. She simply picks items she believes will suit my complexion, build and personality. Then she makes me try them on! Sometimes the pieces she picks do not work and we discard them and try on another outfit. She has even come over to my house and looked through my closet – putting together pieces I already have for a new look. There have been shopping trips where I thought I might drop before I tried on all the different clothing options she chose, some of which on the hangar I would have bypassed but once I had them on, I saw how much I liked them.
When I get compliments on my outfit or the accessories and how everything just goes so well together, I give my friend the credit. I truly appreciate her helping me look my best without breaking my bank account. In the end I am still myself, not a replication of her or of the latest trends. Classics can be brightened up, the look changed simply with different accessories or so I am learning.
However, finding your style includes more than your fashion style. It involves finding your own style – the way your personality comes through – in whatever you do. The way I tell a story has all the elements of a good story which I study about or learn by watching and listening to other people who are good at the craft, but it has my unique expressions, movements and voice.
Let me share a couple of illustrations.
Several years ago I prepared a speech which I planned to give at a speech contest in the Toastmasters organization. I worked hard on this short five to seven minute presentation about how life does not always go as we planned, hoped or dreamed. I presented it and won the first level of competition. I received some feedback from others and tried to incorporate it all. I changed, polished, practiced until the finished product was the best it could be, or so I thought. At the next level of competition I placed second. I could not understand what went wrong. I received some very positive feedback about how much it meant to some people in the audience which was affirmation about the choice of topic and story I used. My intent had always been to impact the listeners.
My husband gave me his take on my performance. He said I did well but I had tried to make it like I thought everyone expected instead of being myself. I heard this several times from him, including at another workshop presentation I gave. He reminded me that to have the biggest impact on the audience and to be consistent, I needed to speak in my own style not the way I thought others expected of me. Yes practice was great and polishing a presentation imperative but I simply needed to share the story in my style.
The other example comes from my writing. My grandson challenged me to try writing fiction. I love reading fiction and have my favourite authors and genres. I accepted the challenge – rather reluctantly at first. I wrote some chapters towards my first fiction book. Then I sent the first couple chapters to a few people to read and give me feedback. Everyone agreed I should continue to finish the book, do the edits and revision and get it out for the public to read. It had great potential. But one person, very honestly, said she could not hear my voice in it. She named one of my favourite authors and told me the style of the story reminded her of that author’s books. While that is a compliment to achieve recognition as valid writing like an award winning author, it was not my style. She reminded me about how I needed to find my style, not someone else’s writing style.
What is Your Style?
Be myself. Be myself. Be myself. The message kept coming at me from various sources. I heard it. I read it. I knew I needed to listen to it. I needed to trust that God had given me the ability to tell stories that taught people, entertained them and even encouraged them. I needed to trust Him to work when I simply told stories in my own style.
I am a work in progress, uniquely designed by God and gifted by him. I must be authentic, genuinely me. I can learn many things from others and need to take time to learn speaking and writing techniques but I must, in the end, be my authentic, genuine self. I must stick with my style.
What is your style? How do you add this to your creative efforts?
Images Courtesy Of:
Furnishings – ErikaWittleib
Living Room – bedrck
Woman with Hat – FreePhotos
Microphone – vanleuven0
Writing – StockSnap
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren. Visit her website carolscorner.ca
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