Your Writing Voice Will Come Naturally … Eventually

That’s why many aspiring writers never get past the “aspiring” stage. They don’t want to wait.

blog0422

My mom is a registered dietitian. She teaches college and graduate courses in nutrition and dietetics, gives talks and presents to groups in our area and has practiced in the profession for a very long time.

I tell you this because, when we were little, my brother and I used to make fun of her for having a “dietitian voice.”

Even when she wasn’t up in front of a group of people talking about cholesterol or whatever, as soon as she started talking about anything nutrition-related in casual conversation, her voice would change. She spoke differently. In her professional mindset, she did not use words quite the same way she would if we were sitting at the dinner table talking about a TV show.

Only when I started podcasting did I realize I have a professional voice, too. Everyone does, to a certain extent. Just this past weekend I participated in a panel discussion at a conference, and on our way home, my mom smiled and said, “You used your not-you voice.”

Transitioning into a way of speaking other than the conversational tone and mannerisms we use in normal everyday conversation helps us separate the casual from the professional. Especially when we’re speaking about something we know a lot about, or are enthusiastic about, we change our way of speaking subconsciously. It is authoritative. It makes people pay attention. We do it intentionally, but often without realize we’re doing it.

Is it easier for you to listen to a TED Talk given by a professional, seasoned speaker than it is for you to listen to a lecturer who would much rather be in a lab than in a classroom? That’s why.

There are a lot of blog posts out there about how to “find your writing voice.” We’ve even published one. I’ve always struggled with figuring out a way to explain the process that makes sense. It’s hard to explain a process that, honestly, comes pretty naturally over time. People want solid answers and concrete step-by-step how-tos on this stuff. They don’t want to hear that time and practice are the only way to get from here to there. But in this case, that’s just the way it is.

Over time, your writing voice grows and develops along with your writing skills. As you learn, you fall more into a pattern of sorts. A way of phrasing and presenting things. There are a few things you can do to reassure yourself that it’s happening.

How to solidify your writing voice

  • Become an expert in something. Well, sort of. Write about a topic enough to build up your own credibility and confidence. Over time it will get easier to ease yourself into a writing flow state, which is when your voice sort of takes over and brings everything together in its own way.
  • Explain things differently. When you’re talking to someone in a cafe, and you start to tell a story, it’s a mess. There are a lot of “likes” and “oh, and I forgot to mentions” and “So then what happened was’s.” That’s the way you talk, and that’s fine. You’re sort of scribbling out sketches on a piece of paper. When you’re writing, start with the same scribbles. But revise. Color in some adjectives. Make things more linear with fancier diction. Turn that rough sketch into a painting. Every artist has their own style. They develop it by spending time with it and practicing it. Do the same thing with your writing.

If you wanted a quick strategy for developing your voice, I’m sorry you weren’t able to find it here. Good writing requires patience. That’s why many aspiring writers never get past the “aspiring” stage. They don’t want to wait. But if you can hold out, if you can stand to give it time, you’ll be pleased to know that one day you will wake up, you will read something you wrote late last night that you barely remember writing, and you will realize it’s written in your own unique writing voice. And that’s a pretty amazing thing to see.

Image courtesy of Very Quiet/Flickr.

What Happens When You Finally Find Your Voice?

When you can clearly identify it’s yours and begin to settle into it, life as a writer, for the most part, becomes a bit more manageable.

blog0319

Every writer has their own unique voice, or way of writing. When you’re first starting out, it’s hard to tell whether the tone and style you’re writing in is more your own or largely influenced by other writers’ ways of telling stories. There’s nothing wrong with that. The more you write, though, the more you will be able to differentiate between your writing voice and someone else’s.

And when this happens, when you can clearly identify it’s yours and begin to settle into it, life as a writer, for the most part, becomes a bit more manageable.

So how do you find your writing voice? Start here. Then read on to lean more about how going through this process will actually make you a much more efficient and successful writer in the long-term.

Writing itself will come a lot easier to you

Once you go through the process of coming up with an idea, deciding whether or not it’s going to work and finding the time to actually sit down and make it happen, you actually have to write something. Which, when it comes down to it, is actually a lot easier than it seems … once you’ve developed your writing voice.

Don’t take this to mean writing is easy: if you haven’t figured it out by now, it isn’t. What becomes easier, when you start to grow into and get more comfortable with your writing voice, is getting into a flow once you do start writing. You won’t struggle as much trying to figure out how to word or explain things. It will come much more naturally.

Your stories will be more relatable

Another perk of establishing your own voice as a writer is being able to apply that voice to any character and setting you choose. In doing so, your stories will resonate much more with your audience. If you’re a YA author, for example, you’ll be able to write from a teenager’s perspective much more easily and successfully, even if you haven’t been one for awhile.

This does take time. It isn’t easy for one person to write the first-person perspective of four different characters in one story as if they truly are four different people. You’ll get there. That’s when it gets even more fun.

Eventually, you will also be able to transition much more smoothly between writing in a more formal tone and a more conversational one, depending on the situation and its audience. Readers won’t relate very well to something that sounds like it was written by a PhD candidate (that’s not an insult, by any means) when it should really be in a tone that suggests it was written by someone closer to the ideal reader’s age, education level or demographic.

You will feel more confident, at least a little bit

Confidence is essential as a writer. That doesn’t mean every successful writer is confident about every single thing they write. Rather, they spend a lot less time worrying about whether or not other people will like their story and devote more energy to making it the best story possible, regardless of others’ opinions about it.

When you are more comfortable with using your writing voice, it becomes a lot easier to focus on your work itself instead of how others might react to it. Also, because growing into your voice makes it a little easier to write and makes your writing more relatable, you’ll have a lot fewer reasons to criticize your own work. Confidence comes with time, but the more comfortable you are writing, hopefully, the more writing you’ll be able to accomplish.

Your voice is unique. Your stories are unlike anyone else’s. Doesn’t it feel amazing, knowing that?

Image courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI/flickr.com.