There's one thing we, as writers, really should strive for. There are a whole lot of things we do strive for—publishing contracts, movie rights, Hugo Awards, negative calorie chocolate—but there's one major thing I think the art community in general, and especially the writer's community, should always be trying to get down.
Style. An instantly recognizable style. Why? Because it means several very good things. It means we have a strong enough voice. It means we're writing what we want, which is always a good thing. Most important for post-publication, though, is that a recognizable style garners more fans. Whether or not it's considered 'right', such a simple thing as a unique style, a way with words different from everyone else, gets you more response.
Robert Rodriguez is what got me going on this tangent, and he certainly has a unique style. In fact, fans can often times tell that it's one of his movies from the title or the description, not even seeing a second of the movie. He combines black humor with absurdism all wrapped in a B-movie, independent flair.
And lots of blood.
The problem comes in discovering that style for yourself. No one can tell you what it is, and no one but you can really find it. That doesn't mean it's hopeless, it just takes some thought.
I've found three, one of which is a touch contradictory to what I said above—I never claimed to be a writer.
At any rate, there are three.
One: This is the contradictory one. This is where your writer's network can come into play. This is where you take all those people who've read a whole bunch of your work, gather them together (baking for them or bringing them wine to soften them up is not a terrible idea here) and get them to help you look over your stuff to identify a recurring feel, recurring elements, anything that tends to show up universally or nearly universally in all your pieces. Of course, you can do that yourself, but an outside set of eyes can be quite useful.
Two: Write something you wouldn't normally write, be that a western, a romance, a fable, a tall-tale. It's human nature to try and fall back on familiar, personally integrated skills when thrust into an unfamiliar situation, so your style will shine through more and more the further removed your project is from your norm. Plus, who knows, you could have a unique story you can sell somewhere...
Three: Read your eMails. More than anywhere else, when you write letters, Facebook posts, eMails, you're writing as yourself. While sounding like that isn't necessarily always your best choice for fiction, especially fiction you plan to sell, it's helpful as an exercise to go over and see what you sound like to other people.
Of course, you can also ignore my tripe and go about your merry way—that's a perfectly acceptable way of finding your style. But, if you're in need of an exercise to pin down your style, or just some general writing exercises, they're here, and I'm pretty certain they don't run away when I log off, so yeah.
Any who, off to work, I suppose.