I’ll admit it… I am blessed. Writing has come naturally to me from a very early age, so I’ve never really had to set out to find my writing “voice.” It’s just sort of always been there… approachable, conversational, a little bit sarcastic and hopefully, inspirational.
But, I know for a lot of people, this is not the case.
In fact, I get questions from people all the time, asking how they can become a better writer… how they can make their writing sound better… how they can reach more people.
And the first step to achieving all of these goals is to find your writing voice.
So, how do you go about doing that?
Well, here are a few tips!
1. Be Yourself.
There is only one John Steinbeck, one J.D. Salinger, one Ernest Hemingway, one Stephen King. And there’s a reason for that.
Each one of them writes in an individual style that is all their own. In fact, some writers are so unique, you can pick out their writing from a blind reading test (like James Frey). And that’s what makes them so special!
You do not need to be anyone other than yourself (and shouldn’t want to be!). We were each made with a unique set of talents, an individual personality and a voice unlike any other. So use it! And don’t try to simply mimic or impersonate someone else.
2. Be Expressive!
Now, this obviously may not be appropriate in all situations. If you were hired to write a technical manual or a formal document, you obviously would need to stick to the straight and narrow. But for most other types of writing (particularly for blogs or website copy), you need to give readers something that they WANT to read!
No one likes to sit and read a bunch of bland, boring sentences strung together. We like detail and descriptions… words that help us to “see” an image, “smell” a fragrance or “feel” a sensation that the author is presenting.
Pretend your readers have never seen/smelled/felt whatever it is you are writing about, and educate them with your writing! Is it a hot day outside? Don’t just say it’s hot… describe the way the blazing sun prickles on your skin and sweat starts to bead on the back of your neck. Make them feel it!
3. Be Conversational and Relatable.
Now again, this could depend on the particular type of writing and whether or not it is appropriate. But for any type of personal writing, you need to be… you guessed it… personal! Blogs and websites are literally flooding the internet these days, so what will make you stand out from the crowd?
If readers feel like they can really get to know you through your writing, they will be more apt to keep coming back for more. The more human you are, the more approachable and the more they feel like they are having a conversation with a friend… the more they will be able to relate and want to connect with you.
4. Let the Ideas Flow.
The worst way to find your writing voice is to try to sit down and FORCE it to come out. That’s just going to make it go run and hide somewhere in a corner of your mind, leaving you to stare blankly at that blinking cursor.
Instead, give yourself some free, creative time to just let ideas flow. Obviously, you will not want to do this when you are under a deadline. It needs to be a pressure-free activity. Grab a notebook and pen or sit down with a blank document on your laptop, and just start writing. Let your brain “dump” onto the paper or screen. You can time yourself if you’d like and write for 5, 10, 30 minutes… whatever feels comfortable to you.
But when you are finished, go back and read over what you wrote. Chances are, you will already see your writing voice beginning to emerge right there. When we are unrestricted, non-stressed and non-pressured, is when our creativity can really come out.
Then take those traits that you see (Humorous? Artistic? Emotional? Compassionate?) and start to intentionally incorporate them into your writing moving forward. Don’t force anything that’s not already there, just build upon what is there.
5. Give it time.
The best thing you can do for yourself in your writing is not to rush it. Keep practicing and keep writing, and your “voice” will become more defined and more unique over time. Don’t worry about it and don’t stress over it. Just give yourself the space, time and freedom to find who you are.
And before you know it, you might just find yourself among the Salingers and Hemingways of the day!
Want more great writing tips? Click here for my FREE writing tips cheatsheet and get more information about my upcoming e-course, Write Right, launching in summer 2016.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in The Charlotte Observer, Fort Mill Times, Charlotte Five, SOCIETY Charlotte Magazine and Lake Norman Magazine, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. Her freelance clients span across the US, as well as Australia and the UK, in the fashion & beauty, health & wellness, travel and life coaching industries.
In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house. Quickly gaining recognition in the tiny house community, her posts have been featured on popular tiny house sites like CometCamper, Tiny House Talk, Tiny House America and Tiny House Jamboree.