Finding Your Writing Voice

I have recently been involved in a discussion and study on Christian Virtues with a writing component. Today’s post addresses one of the aspects of writing that we have talked about in this study-VOICE.  Voice is that skill one develops in writing, that helps them be faithful to their own style of writing and their unique perspective on the world.  The skill is confusing for new writer’s to understand, partly because a writer’s voice is so stylistic and unique, and almost nobody has one that is well developed in their early writing career.  They may mimic other writer’s voice/style, but it takes a while to develop one’s own.  

In writing, VOICE  is that “jenesequa” that allows someone to read what you’ve written and instantly know that it was YOU who wrote it. I’m posting this today for those who might want to “change things up” a bit in their writing, with the end goal being to better develop their own writing style, or voice.

One of the suggestions I read this week asked writers to read their writing aloud into a tape recorder, rewind the tape, play it back and listen to the sound of their own poetry or prose.  This practice could be a valuable tool for any budding writer.  People are often amazed when they hear themselves on tape for the first time. I know I was, when I began working in radio. As an on-air announcer, I was shocked that I sounded like “that”.  As writers, we don’t often hear our works/words read aloud, so when we do, we notice things that are not apparent prior to hearing what we’ve written.

Another suggestion is to try and analyze some of the components you include in verbal conversations with others. Training your ear to pick up on how much humor you use to make your point is a valuable practice. Other observations you might want to  make concern how often you ask a question to clarify something said, or how much information you bring from other sources into your conversations (quotes, snippets read, stuff like that…).  Once you have a feel for how you converse verbally, you will have a better appreciation for how you need to develop your writing style or voice. 

 Someone I think has a great writing voice is Danielle Barden.  Check out Danielle’s new website, and see for yourself Danielle’s voice is very different from mine, but a lot like Danielle–fresh, passionate, pointed and full of pithy insights. 

One thing that sticks out to me in my conversations with others is a use of levity to lighten things when the subject matter goes deep, maybe too deep. I think that is a GREAT quality that I wish I had! I am also aware of how often penetrating questions are asked in good conversations (making me feel like what I’m saying to you is important-another GREAT quality). Open ended questions to clarify points in the conversation, are often valuable verbal cues, as is the ability to make solid eye contact, the equivalent in writing: to make a solid point, without excuse or softening what you said. Sometimes, a hard stance is a powerhouse of communication, whether the reader agrees or disagrees. There have been times when I threw books across the room from sheer frustration, but I picked the book back up after my temper tantrum and continued reading, because it was that compelling.

Practice at transferring cues from verbal communications to the page may be helpful when developing your writing voice. Try it a time of two, and see how it feels. You may be amazed at how quickly you become adept at including conversational cues (humor, levity, open ended questions, clarifying statements, unflinching and steely observations, etc) into your writing.

Pencils at the ready?  Go…


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