How to Find Your “Voice” as A Writer

Voice is one of the most important elements of any great writer. No doubt about it.

Without a unique “voice”, they wouldn’t have had so many readers.

But what is this voice, exactly? And how can you make it come through in your writing?

Well, let’s think of voice. Some have a deep tonality, a certain way of articulating words. They have a style. They talk like no one else you ever met. Others have this squeaky voice that sounds like scratching a blackboard with your fingernails, and even though what they’re saying could make a lot of sense, and it could be something witty and smart, you can’t wait for them to shut up, because you can’t understand a thing they’re saying anyway.

Well, the same is true for your writing. No one can hear you, but they can feel you through the words you use and how you choose to use them.

Odds are that you are struggling to find your voice as a writer. To find that style. Odds are that you are also putting a lot of pressure on yourself to be unique. To write like no one else before you.

If only you knew how simple it really is.

You just got to write like yourself.

1. Get into a flow state

Most times, when we sit at our desks to write, we’re feeling a bit self-conscious about it. We wonder what people are going to think, whether they’ll read it, or buy it, or give it five star reviews. We keep revising the mental list of things to buy from the grocery store, or keep replaying a five year old memory of that one time a kid threw a baseball through your kitchen window.

The idea is to get into a flow state, defined as being so focused and immersed in what you are doing that the world itself seems to stop.

You can try this fun and simple exercise: try writing as much as you can in only three minutes. Don’t think, just write. You don’t have time to worry about quality. You must write as many words you can in only three minutes.

Odds are you’re going to enter into a flow state pretty fast. It’s just you and the words you’re writing. It’s quite an interesting process, and you’ll be surprised by how good some of the writing can be.

2. Write like you talk

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Read your writing aloud. Does that sound like you? Is that how you normally talk?

It helps to record yourself talking once in a while. See how that sounds. You have certain words and phrases that you use most often. A certain style. A way of saying things that makes sense to you, and that’s what you should add into your writing.

The words you use when talking are the most authentic reflection of who you are as a person. Even if it makes no sense at all.

3. F#ck the rules

This is a strange paradox. Yes, rules are important. And they do help out a lot.

But you must first deliver your message the way you want to. Forget the rules, forget what your English teacher taught you. Be yourself. Be free.

Once you do that, then you can adopt certain rules. You’ll also want to break others.

The thing about all these rules is that they’re intended to help you deliver a clear message. That is all. If breaking one enhances the clarity of your writing, then break it. If adopting another will help you create clarity, then you should use it.

All great writers have a certain rhythm they adhere to. Your own writing has a certain rhythm. What you want to write about will also demand a certain rhythm.

If your character is struggling to climb a mountain, if the overall feeling is that it’s just a walk in the park, that’s going to come off as in-congruent. Listen to what the rhythm and pace of each scene demand of you.

4. Write what you know

Not only should you write about what you know, you should write about what you love. What makes you feel alive. What keeps you up at night.

You should write about the people who broke your heart, or the ones who saved your soul.

You should write about your own passions and dreams and aspirations.

Sorry, but all we are doing are some self-portraits. We just lie about them an awful lot, that’s it.

It wouldn’t make much sense to write post-apocalyptic stories (because they’re cool for now) when your passion is writing poetry. Or fantasy.

Authenticity is key to developing your voice as a writer.

Also, a lot of people water down their writing as to not piss someone off. They’d very much like everyone to like their writing.

That’s how you lose any chance of having a voice.

Remember what I said in the beginning about some people having a deep, strong voice when talking? Well, you need to have the guts to write like that.

Even if the world hates you, which won’t ever happen.

It’s the ones who are even afraid to whisper that the world ignores. Never forget that!

 

What tricks do you have for finding your voice?

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15 thoughts on “How to Find Your “Voice” as A Writer

  1. I don’t get it. You say you’re Romanian but write English like an American. The tone and character is American. I’m talking about your blog; I haven’t read your books. Were you born and raised in Romania or America. Or are you an American pretending to be European because you think it gives you a certain panache. There’s something fishy here. That’s an American expression that means…. Well you should know.

    • Born in, raised in, and pretty much never left Romania. Except for ten days I spent in England a few years ago.

      Never been to America.

      I believe you can figure out that I’m not American because I don’t talk about much of the realities of life there. Or you can just check my Facebook or something. Or Instagram.

      I don’t know. It’s weird, I guess. I even dream in English sometimes. They say that’s when you know your bilingual. And, yes, I think in English, more than in Romanian. Sometimes I have trouble talking to my own friends and family, because I keep thinking of English phrases and stuff like that.

      I haven’t read a novel or book in Romanian for over four years. Everything I read, from articles to fiction, is in English. I watch movies and TV shows in English, no subtitles or anything.

      Most of the music I listen to… You get the idea.

      • I have the same thing. I’m Belgian, Flemish speaking, but I express myself much better in English. I also think in English and Flemish, often switching mid-sentence. I think it’s because I was exposed to the English language and culture from a very young age through my mother who is an Anglophile. I haven’t read a book in Flemish since I was 12 and I watch English or American television, never Belgian. I did live in Ireland for ten years and that helped my vocabulary a lot!

    • I think the important question here is: does it really matter where he’s from, or where he says he’s from? If he says he’s from Romania (which, due to my page views, I believe him, since I see views from Romania). He could tell me he’s from Venus and it wouldn’t change the quality or content of his writing.

      • I wasn’t referring to the quality or content of his writing, just the tone and character which struck me as American.

    • I found that that’s how you figure a lot of things out. Flaubert used to practically shout his writing. On the street. At night. Or something crazy like that.

      There’s no other way to figure out the pace of your novel.

  2. I liked this article. As for reading aloud, I wholeheartedly agree! When I released my first novel, I didn’t do so until I felt it sounded right – to me – as I read it silently to myself. Hmm, red flags? Once I got my hands on the proof and began reading it aloud to my family, even from the first chapter I was thinking, “Ugh! This just does not flow (and flow is something I find important, especially as I write poetry).” After that realization I vowed that I would read my future releases aloud to make sure they are solid before publishing them.

    Also I want to touch on “The Rules”. You don’t know how many times (or perhaps you do, haha) I hear people say “you need to change that sentence – it’s passive and that’s poor writing.” No, it’s intentionally placed as a stylistic form – one that I can appreciate. I certainly don’t use it all the time, but if I feel it adds to the “art” of my writing, then F#ck the rules, as you say!

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