Finding My Voice
10 Tips: How To Find Your Writing Voice
Whether you’re an aspiring blogger, novelist, poet or short story writer, finding your writing voice is critical for engaging your readers. It needs to be unique. It’s more than style, grammar and content choices; it’s personality, flair, rhythm and tone. It’s you.
Having a recognisable writing voice is what connects you with your readers. It’s the way you describe something; it’s the emotions you inject into a scene; it’s the way that you look at a tree at midnight. It’s your views, your beliefs, your personality.
Your voice is unique to you. It’s something you develop, not something you design. That said, despite your voice being largely your actual voice, finding it — and capturing it within your writing — can be trickier than expected. It’s a journey. It takes practice.
1. Be honest
To find your writing voice, you have to be honest (with yourself and your readers). Don’t copy other writers; it won’t feel or sound natural. It won’t be you. It’ll be you trying to be someone else. Don’t think too much about it. Just write however comes naturally.
2. Think of your reader
Who are you writing for? Children? Adults? Teenagers? Picture them in your head. Imagine that you are speaking to them. How would you tell them this story, or explain to them what this article is trying to say? Just be you; one human, speaking to another.
3. Experiment and practice
Finding your writing voice is a journey. To get it ‘right’, you need to practice. You need to write. Test different styles, different view-points, different tones. Try writing fiction, non-fiction, short stories, articles, blog posts. Anything and everything. Even if you’re not interested in being a novelist, writing a bit of fiction can help to develop your voice.
Try free-writing. Just let the words come naturally. Don’t think about the reader in this instance, or about style, grammar, story structure etc. Just let it happen. Be comfortable with it. Then look back at it afterwards and ask yourself if it’s something you’d want other people to read.
4. Read, read, read
The best writers are readers. Read everything. Books. Short stories. Articles. Blog posts. Newspapers. Magazines. Billboards. Anything. Expand your vocabulary. Find writers you like. What do you enjoy reading? As a reader, what are you looking for in a book or a blog? Knowing this can give you a better idea of what you want to be writing, and how.
Also, read your work out loud. This will help with editing the piece in general — hearing what flows well and what doesn’t — and with telling if it sounds natural, if it sounds like you.
5. Examine what you like
Write a little list of your favourite books, blogs and articles, and a list of your favourite writers. What is it that you like about them? What similarities do they have? What is different about them? What about them speaks to you? Are they funny? Intelligent? Matter-of-fact? Lyrical? What makes their voice memorable? Why do you identify with them?
Figuring out what you admire about them can help you with your own voice. But try not to get too bogged down in the details — you don’t want to copy them, it’s just an exercise to discover what about their voices speak to you — the most important thing is to be yourself.
6. Read your work
When you’re finished with a piece of writing, put it aside for a little bit. Then, when it’s not fresh in your mind anymore, go back to it with a critical eye. Does it feel right? What about it do you like? What doesn’t work as well? Are you being honest? Does it sound like you? Is it something that you would read? If it isn’t, you’ve probably not got your voice right.
7. Listen to your feelings
When you read your work — or write it, even — does it feel risky? Scary? Do you feel vulnerable? Are you afraid of people reading it? Feeling like this isn’t a bad thing. It means you’ve bared your soul. You’ve been honest with your readers. You’ve not held yourself back. You’ve given them the true you. And that’s what will make your voice stand out.
8. Ask for help
Ask your friends and family what they imagine your writing voice would be like, or what you sound like in person. How do you speak? Working this out can help you inject yourself into your writing. Then, ask them to read your work. Does it sound like you? Is it engaging?
9. Enjoy it
Have fun with it! If writing feels like a slog, you’re probably not writing as yourself. Ideally, it should feel like you’re whizzing along, not dragging yourself word by painful word. At this stage, it should be about experimentation and enjoyment, or about releasing your truth.
10. Be patient
It’s very unlikely that you’re going to find your writing voice overnight. You need to practice, to read and to get to know yourself a bit. Finding your voice is a process; it’s something that develops over time. Let it grow naturally. Take your time; don’t rush. It’ll come!
And, when you’ve found your voice, remember that it’s a continually evolving thing. As you grow and change, so will your voice. It’s a part of you. Let it roam free!
by Charlotte Rayment