Some writers are lucky. That’s what I’ve decided. From the very first keystrokes that they ever put to paper the words just flow and make sense. Others struggle and it seems like the words never take on a natural flow for them. Sometimes the difficulty in making words flow is so severe, it causes a terminal case of writer’s block.
If you spend any time researching this whole business of writing, you will see a great deal of folks advising you to find a writing voice. If you can make it unique then all the better. I would argue that you don’t need to find your voice, you already have one! Your writer’s voice is there in your head. It’s what you hear as a constant word track throughout your day. Your challenge is not to find your voice, it’s to put that voice to paper.
So you’re struggling with finding your writer’s voice? You’re considering going back to your electric dog polishing business? Before you throw in the writing towel consider these tips:
- Here is your first key, and it’s an important one: Relax. If you get all jacked up when you sit at the keyboard because you’re worried about your tone or your voice then things are never going to flow.
- Pay attention to the authors you like. What is their style? Can you put a finger on what it is that resonates with you? It’s possible that these folks resonate with you because their voice is actually very similar to your natural writing voice. This is not a call to mimic. If you try and copy what someone else is doing in terms of style or voice then you will fail. You will fail because it won’t be natural for you.
- Ask for dead-honest, straightforward critiques of your work from folks that you trust. If your voice is a concern for you then let your reviewers know that you’d like them to focus on flow and tone. Let them know you don’t give a rip about grammar or spelling in this instance. Try and get enough reviewers to make the sampling statistically significant. In other words get enough people to balance out your mom’s glowing praise. If a majority of your reviewers come back with suggestions for taking an “English as a Second Language” course, there are probably some issues that need to be addressed.
- This tip will blow your mind because it’s really out there: Write. How’s that for cutting edge? you heard me, write. A writer writes, right? Discipline yourself to put 2000 words to paper each and every day. Yes, every day. It can be work on your novel, an article you’ve been thinking of for a magazine, blog entries – whatever. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s all about the writing. Try this for six months and you’re writing voice will gradually emerge.
- Don’t pay a lot of money and sign up for another writer’s workshop. Really. You don’t need that. What you need is to relax and write. Your voice is already there, let it come out through practice if it’s not already coming out.
- Finally (and I think this is crucial), write like you speak. Typically the voice in your head has the same tone and cadence that makes it past your lips. Use a different body part, that’s all. Flow that cadence and tone and word structure through your fingertips instead of your lips. When you write something, read it aloud and see if it sounds like something you would say. Does it sound like you? Perfect! You’re there! When you hear the words aloud does it sound forced or unnatural? Ok, it’s no big deal. Back to the drawing board.
You have a wonderful and unique writing voice. Truly you do. It’s all in your head. Pay attention to how your writing sounds in your head. Move that to paper and you will have found your writing voice.