The importance of voice in writing
Being a writer these days can be incredibly rewarding as well as extremely frustrating.
What with numerous, almost too many, places where one can write, the writing world is now ones oysters.
Gone are the days of Goethe, Schiller and Shakespeare, who have a very narrow writing platform, the theatre, newspapers or novels.
These are the days of blogs, hubs, web sites and numerous other social media platforms all accessible to the budding writer.
True it is that there are these opportunities, but, what exactly does one write about? Hasn't everything been written already?
That of course should not be the approach of the budding writer. If that was the case, no new novels, opinion pieces or romance novels would be published again, with all those topics covered ad nauseum.
Doubt has no place for a budding writer, or any writer.
The trick with any writing is to make it appealing to the reader. Think about the last novel, short story or even opinion piece you read. What was it you liked about it? Obviously you need to think about a piece of writing you liked as opposed to one you did not like. Although if you can only call to mind writing you did not like, you may want to look at why. Perhaps it was the voice of the author that did not appeal to you.
It is usually the voice of the author we find attractive in any piece of writing. The way someone is able to say something we have heard before but in a way we have not heard before. Of course one style/voice might appeal to one person but the next.
Finding your own voice may not happen overnight and it might take some time.
Food is one of the many topics to write about
Starting to find your voice
To find your own voice, your unique way of writing has no magic formula. Finding ones voice comes with writing.
Most writing books on writing state the obvious. To write well you must write. To find your voice you must write. To find something to write about you must write.
It sounds rather simple, and it is. You must write. If you don't write, nothing will be produced and you will not find your voice or get something published.
But what do you write about? How do you start?
There are many ways to get started and one method that has always worked for me is the method of setting a time and simply writing on anything for about ten minutes. What you write does not have to be a about a particular topic or theme. The idea behind this exercise is to get the words flowing onto the page.
If you don't know what to write about start your sentence with those words.
'I am trying to find my writing voice and am doing this exercise to try to find it, as if I have lost it somewhere on this blank page. I don't know why people keep suggesting to simply write without any structure or direction in mind. What is to happen? Have you ever seen a plumper simply tinker with a toilet for experience? I haven't, you might. But then I don't really know what plumbers do to get experience. I have now written for a few minutes and still cannot see where this is going. Outside I can hear a truck engine running and I cannot help but wonder where the truck driver is and why has he not turned the engine off? Perhaps he has been kidnapped?"
Set yourself a goal of writing like this for at least ten minutes a day. If you have no deadline you can play around with this for a while.
After you have written put it aside and read it the next day.
What does it sound like to you?
Would you read it?
Where is it going?
I once did this exercise and picked the word dragon to start myself off. From there I wrote a little essay about the personality of dragons.
This free type of writing is a great way to make sure you simply get in the habit of writing and it is a great way to find your voice.
If not, start again.
It will take time
Apart from reading things you enjoy reading and working out exactly what you like about the author's voice, you need to write, write and write some more.
According to Malcolm Gladwell one of the secrets to success is getting experience - a lot of experience, or to be more precise 10,000 hours. That is a lot of hours of experience.
I am not suggesting it is going to take you that many hours to find your voice, I am merely highlighting that without practice it is hard to get better at something.
By writing every day you will soon start getting better at finding something to write about and how you sound.
Exercises to help you find your voice
When you write, write as though you were telling someone what you are writing. In other words, write like you would talk.
This may sound easier than it is. Often when people commit pen to paper something changes. Their writing starts to sound more formal than the way they talk.
Simply by writing and then reading out aloud, you will get the feel for how your writing sounds.
Reading ones own writing aloud is the best way to make it sound like you. When you are reading what you have written out aloud, ask yourself if it really sounds like you, if not start again.
Write about topics you know about and enjoy.
When we write about things we know about, our writing flows more freely. If you know nothing about the life of a sea cucumber and are asked to write a blog about this creature, chances are your writing will not flow and sound stilted. If however, you are asked to write about dog training, and this is where you are an expert, your writing will sound more like you and flow more freely.
As you get better at writing in your own voice your writing assignments will expand and you will no doubt venture onto pastures you did not date venture onto before.
Start with baby steps though before you go running a marathon.
I think it is important to enjoy the writing process. After all if you don't have fun whilst writing why bother to write. Explore, experiment and have fun with your own writing. Your voice will find you and you will find your voice.