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Searching For Your Writer's Voice? Tips On How To Find It
WHAT IS VOICE IN WRITING?
A writer’s voice has been defined as the writer’s personality in print form, and since I like that definition then that is the one we will use for this article.
When I was teaching writing in middle school, I would always tell my students to avoid writing the way they speak, because most people use a bastardization of the English language when they speak. I was trying to teach my kids proper English and because of that I smothered their “writer’s voice.”
However, when I taught creative writing to those same students, I encouraged them to write the way they spoke because, as the definition suggests, finding your writer’s voice is as simple or as hard as finding your personality and putting it down on paper.
Every single writer has a unique writer’s voice. We are all a compilation of our experiences, hopes, thoughts and dreams. No other writer can have the same voice as you do, and the reverse is true as well. It is unavoidable that you will write as you are, and quite frankly that is a very good thing. Do not try to copy the voice of one of the masters. It has already been done and you will never do it as well as the original.
If you take a look at the quotation at the beginning of this section, you will see a pretty good example of what voice is. Breathing, crying, singing, they are all a part of your writer’s voice, and in creative writing those should never be silenced.
FINDING YOUR VOICE
What if I can’t find it? What if I don’t have a voice?
Well, nonsense! You are, therefore, you have a voice. There has never been another human being like you and there will never be another writing voice like yours.
How do you find it? Write!
Your writer’s voice will change over time, but since it is a reflection of who you are, and since we all grow over a lifetime, it only stands to reason that your voice will experience alterations.
One does not find their voice but rather one allows their voice to escape and sing to the world, and you can only do that by writing.
Oh, you want some tips? You are one of those people who are not happy unless you have been given some exercises to practice? Fine, try this one.
Read your writing out loud and listen to it, or have someone else read it while you listen. How does it sound? Does it flow or stutter? Does it sound like a melody or like two cats mating? If you do not like the sound of your own voice then chances are nobody else will either. Fine tune it! Work on cadence! Work on word choice! Work on sentence structure and length! Work on them all until your words sounds as good coming out of your mouth as they did inside of your head.
SING YOUR VOICE
I know, it sounds weird, but stay with me for a second.
If you put music to your writer’s voice, what would it sound like? Would it sound like Beethoven or would it sound like the Beastie Boys? Would it be a three-string quartet or would it sound like Big Band music?
Would your voice be a lovely, reflective tune or would it be brass drums and a headache?
On that same note (pun intended), what do you want your voice to sound like? If you can answer that question, and if your writing sounds like that, then you have found the voice you wanted. Now try it out on others and see if they agree.
FINDING THE PERFECT MATCH IN GENRES
Sometimes our voice does not match the genre that we are writing. For instance, my voice would not be good if I attempted to write a cook book. How do I know? Simply because I have no passion for writing a cookbook, or any craft book. If my passion is missing then my true voice will be missing as well.
On the other hand, I have great passion when it comes to empowering people and helping them to believe in themselves. That kind of writing really floats my boat and it shows when I do it because my passionate voice shines through. You can hear the passion in my words when I tell people they were meant to fly with the eagles.
It is my belief that we are at our best when we are writing in a genre that allows our true writer’s voice to soar. If you find that perfect match then you will have found Nirvana in the writing world.
Learning from one of the best
Check these out for inspiration
- 50 of the Best Websites for Writers
There are tons of reference sites on the web that can help you find a job or write a poem, essay or story. Here is a list of the best 50 websites for writers.
ODDS AND ENDS
Earlier I told you not to copy the voice of the masters, but I do believe you should study their voices. The more you read the more you will absorb. Partially, as writers, we learn by osmosis. If we surround ourselves with great writing a little of it will rub off on us. Read a variety of writers with a variety of styles. Remember, your voice is a summation of your entire life, so you will try to add to your life and experiences by reading the works of the greats.
Try these exercises:
- Write a list of ten emotion words and then write what they mean to you on a personal level.
- Write a list of ten traumatic experiences in your lifetime and then write why each one was meaningful.
- Write a grocery list in poetic form. I know, weird for sure but weird is good in writing.
- Write a definition from the dictionary for some random word, and then re-write it using your current voice. Note the differences. Then re-write it again as a limerick.
- Ask someone else what your voice is? Have them describe what you sound like. Is their description something you can live with? If not, change it!
- Write down a description of who your ideal reader is. What are they looking for when they read? Then ask yourself if you deliver what they want to read. If not, change it!
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- Artistry With Words | A topnotch WordPress.com site
Join us and we will share ideas and tips and hopefully make better writers of all of us.
A Moment With Bill
Every single writer has a unique voice. The problem, then, is making sure we like our voice. I am very comfortable writing about emotions and personal experiences. Many writers are not and that is fine. If you are not comfortable writing then writing will become a chore, so first and foremost you have to fit inside your own skin.
Practice, practice and then practice some more. You will find it but it may take some work. If you are serious about this thing called writing then you will make this search for your writer’s voice a priority.
I wish you the best of luck. As always, if I can be of any help feel free to ask questions.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)