Find your writing voice

One of the most precious aspects of a writer’s talent is voice, the tell-tale sign of who is sitting on the other side of the story.

CummingsPoemOne of the most precious aspects of a writer’s talent is voice, that characteristic style of writing which injects a writer’s personality into a piece and can often be a tell-tale sign of who was sitting on the other side of the story.

In the April issue of The Writer, JoAnn Stevelos discusses her journey to finding her singing voice, a process which helped her dig deep into her soul and into her memories and, in turn, find her writing voice. “As a writer,” she says, “I am always trying to get my true voice onto the paper, into the story.”

While her approach to accomplishing this may have been unconventional, it worked. Here are some tips for finding your writing voice.

  1. Use stream of consciousness to put your story onto the page, not stopping to fix an error or to think about phrasing. In other words, don’t focus on getting it perfect. Get the story down how it sounds in your head. Editing can come later.
  2. Write as if you were verbally telling someone the story to capture your speaking voice’s cadences. If it helps, record yourself telling the story and then play it back to get a feel for how you sound and the techniques you use – even if you don’t realize you’re using any.
  3. Make the story your own by incorporating whichever grammatical style works. Make up your own words if the dictionary simply won’t get your point across. Creative license goes a long way in making your writing unique.
  4. Format the story in a way that makes sense to you. We all think uniquely, we all compartmentalize information uniquely. Why shouldn’t writing be the same? If you want to sporadically use italics or break to a new line in the middle of a sentence, do it.
  5. Be careful and be steadfast during the editing process. What might seem like an unnecessary em-dash or a run-on sentence to an editor or reader could be one of the very things that makes your writing yours. You may be asked to cut out certain trills that you find essential, even special. Use your speaking voice to defend your writing voice.

All said, it is important to keep an open mind to feedback from readers and editors. After all, no piece of writing is perfect or exempt from editing. At a certain point, it is necessary to put pride aside and do what is best for the piece. It could be detrimental to your writing career if it appears as though your “one-of-a-kind voice” is forced.

What methods have you used to help solidify your writing voice?