One of the hardest things about finding where you belong in the publishing world is figuring out how to find your writing voice. I’m sharing 11 tips that will help you separate yourself from the rest of the writerly pack.
Knowing how to find your writing voice is the first step in creating a writing practice and habit that can help you build your career.
When it comes to writing, voice is your personal writing style. It’s the techniques you use, tone, pacing, the words you choose, how you structure your sentences, and a whole host of other things.
Basically, it’s how you write. And it has to be unique to you.
After all, if you wrote exactly like Stephen King, why would anyone read your stuff when they could read his?If you wrote exactly like Stephen King, why would anyone read your stuff when they could read his? Click To Tweet
Before we jump into it, I don’t want to worry anyone.
You’ve likely found your writing voice already. And from there, it’s just a matter of staying consistent and sharing your voice in all you do.
But if you aren’t sure if you’ve figured out how to find your writing voice yet, I’ve got a list of 11 ways you can find it.
How to Find Your Writing Voice
001: Know what you want to say.
I think a lot of younger writers struggle to find their voice because they don’t know what they want to say yet.
But when you know what you want to say, and the story you need to tell, it makes it a lot easier to write in a way that suits that content.
If you want to tell heartwarming stories, your voice has to reflect that.
If you want to write comedies, your voice needs to be humorous.
So, take some time and figure out what it is you want to share with the world. And remember that everything you share is part of the writing career you build. So, even if it’s something that’s well-written but doesn’t reflect what you want to say, it’s a good idea to think twice about sharing it.
Instead, thing about your career overall, and how you want to build it. Then, let that shape what you have to say.
002: Know who you are.
Sure, “be yourself” is the sort of platitude that you’re used to hearing all the time. But that’s because it’s something you have to do to live a creative life.Sure, 'be yourself' is the sort of platitude that you're used to hearing all the time. But that's because it's something you have to do to live a creative life. Click To Tweet
And when it comes to writing, it’s still good advice.
Knowing who you are can make it infinitely easier to know what you want to share. So think about who you are, and think about the conversations you have with friends.
Do you want your writing voice to mirror that? Or do you want it to be more like the conversations you have with close loved ones?
Whatever you choose is fine. But make sure you’re staying true to who you actually are.
If not, your writing voice won’t work, and no one will want to read your writing.
003: Find what you like about your favorite writers.
For a long time, I tried to write like Tolkien. Only, it was incredibly hard because that’s just not how people talk these days.
(I do still have lots of hobbit-elf conversations in my head about the Grey Havens though.)
It took me a long time to realize that I liked the cadence of the sentences and the pacing of Tolkien’s writing, not necessarily the content or context. For me, the pleasant and slow release of information and superfluous detail is a joy.
So while I know that’s not for everyone, I know I like it. And it’s something that I incorporate into my writing.
Take a look at your favorite writers and find what it is that attracts you to them. Don’t outright copy them, but find ways to incorporate those elements and techniques into your own writing.
004: Experiment and practice.
When it comes to integrating techniques and style elements into your writing, you gotta practice.
That’s the thing about writing. It’s all practice all the damn time.
And it’s important to remember that you may not be able to add those things into the first draft. It may be that your voice comes through in the third draft or in the final edit.
And it’s totally fine if your voice is in the edits you make.
The key is to keep trying out new things, and practicing the things that you like.
005: Push yourself to change.
One of the things I hated about teaching was that I had a lot of students who were content to write everything as a five-paragraph essay.
This wasn’t necessarily because they had never seen any other writing style — they had. They were in college.
A lot of it is the muscle memory of it, and since that’s the essay style kids are taught in elementary school and use all the way through high school, it’s the one that most students feel the most comfortable with.
But here’s the thing: It’s not the best way to write like 88% of essays.
So, you really have to push yourself to change.
Because writing is a habit, you have a ton of ingrained ways of doing things. But if you want to adapt your voice, you have to push yourself to change what you’re doing.Because writing is a habit, you have a ton of ingrained ways of doing things. But if you want to adapt your voice, you have to push yourself to change what you're doing. Click To Tweet
(That’s why there’s lots of experimentation and practice too.)
006: Know the audience you’re writing for.
Even though your voice is unique to you, it should adapt based on who you’re writing for.
For example, I don’t write the way I write on this blog when I do freelance feature articles. And when I’m writing fiction, my voice changes too.
You can keep your quintessential voice and still shape it to fit with the content and form.
So, knowing the audience is important because it helps you figure out what elements of your voice will be effective for a particular piece.
007: Read broadly.
Sometimes, we get stuck in ruts and we aren’t aware of all the stuff out there. So reading outside your comfort zone will help you see the wide array of writing styles out there.
And as a writer, it’s important to constantly expand the styles and genres so that you’re getting maximum inspiration.
Reading broadly will help you see the techniques and styles that are out there. And it will help you see what it is you like about other writers.
So, if you’re unsure about how to expand your writing voice or how to make your writing voice uniquely yours, read something you wouldn’t normally read, and see what you learn.
008: Get feedback on what you’ve already written.
This is something that can be really tough for some writers, but you have to pull off the bandaid.
You will never get better as a writer if you don’t seek feedback. Sure, you may have written something that works for you, but you need someone on the outside to tell you if it works for someone who isn’t inside your head.
Find editors or critique partners. They can tell you the elements of your voice that work, and the elements of your voice that need work.
And when you know these things, it makes it easier to practice and fix the things that don’t work.
009: Search your preferences.
Have you ever analyzed why you like what you like? When you look at the books and articles you like, analyze why you like them.
That will give you an indication of the elements of writing voice that appeal to you.
Take a look at the different genres that you come back to, or the writers that you always love. Analyze what it is about those books or writers that appeals to you.
So next time you find a story you like, figure out why you like it. This will give you an indication of what it is you want your voice to be like.
010: Keep the habit going.
Oh, writing. If only we could all be great at it with no practice or consistency…
The thing about your writing voice is that you have to keep at it.
Figuring out that you want to use a certain type of sentence structure is great. But you have to employ it all the time and make it a habit.
The more you exercise your writing voice and make it a habit, the easier it will get to use it, and the more consistent it will be in your writing.
011: Don’t rest on your laurels.
Did you get all As on your papers in high school? Did those techniques continue to work in college?
You have to keep growing as a writer, and the thing about writing voice is that it will evolve over time.
So, even if you write and publish something that’s amazing, make sure you keep pushing yourself. One of the most common criticisms I hear of other writers is that they keep doing the same things.
Readers don’t want that all the time.
Make sure that you’re pushing yourself.How did you find your writing voice? Click To Tweet
How Did You Find Your Writing Voice?
What has been the best way for you to find your writing voice? How did you realize what differentiated you from other writers? What do you look for in stories when it comes to writing voice?