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?