It can be difficult to define what a writer’s voice is, much less figure out what your unique voice is in your writing. Essentially, your voice is what you sound like on the page. It’s what makes your writing unique to you and recognizable to a reader. It includes your style and tone, which are shaped by your perspective. Your voice is not the words you write, but how you write them.
“Whenever I think of the writer’s voice, I think of who I am or who we are as writers at our very core. The truest form of our heart, our expression, our passion, our skills, everything about us authentically put before another human being as an offering.” — Ashlee Eiland
Some writers simply say that you’ll know your voice when you find it, but at hope*writers, we believe there are concrete steps you can take to develop a consistent voice in your work. These five tips will help.
Most writing conundrums are solved with a regular writing practice, and discovering your writing voice is no exception. The only way to uncover your voice is to develop a regular writing rhythm and commit to practicing.
The best method for writing good, true words that are unique to your perspective and experience is to write them on the page over and over again.
Who are your favorite voices? What is it about their writing that compels you to read their work? Reading widely as a writer is important, but for a time, it can be helpful to narrow your reading to a few writers whose work you particularly admire.
Spending time with their words and analyzing their style through regular exposure to their voice can influence your own. Emulation is not imitation. While you should always avoid copying other writers, you can still allow their way with words to gently influence and form yours.
This is not the time for rigid rule following or restricting your writing. When writing to discover your voice, give yourself permission to play. If you’re a nonfiction writer, try fiction. If you’re a novelist, try poetry. Try writing in various styles and formats.
Give yourself the freedom to use new language, try different genres or a unique style, or rewrite a classic piece of writing in your own way. You might find one particular element of play resonates deeply with you, and it may be the missing element in discovering your voice.
It can be helpful to share your work with a specific chosen audience to gauge their response. Ask them to read your piece and give feedback on whether or not it sounds like you. Have them compare different writing samples for consistency in style and tone. You may choose a small group of fellow writers or a trusted friend or partner who’s familiar and supportive of you and your work. It’s good to practice for a while privately without the pressure of an audience, but at some point, as a writer, you’ll need to share your work.
Don’t expect to uncover your writing voice right away. It takes years, maybe even decades to develop your most authentic voice on the page. Be generous and allow yourself all the time and practice it takes to feel confident you’ve found your voice. With consistency, it will become more clear and distinct.
Are you struggling to develop your writing voice? Author Ashlee Eiland shares her best pointers for discovering your voice in her conversation with hope*writers. Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.