A new member of the writing forum I belong to posed a question about finding her voice as a writer. While her concerns are legitimate, I couldn’t help but shake my head.
Here’s the thing. A writing voice isn’t something you find. You already have one. Just like you have a unique speaking voice, you have a unique writing voice too – your own peculiar way of stringing words together.
However, the differences between individuals can be very subtle. If you believe that you don’t have a unique voice, it’s because you haven’t noticed it yet. The genetic difference between any two random humans is a fraction of a percent. The variation between one writer’s voice and another’s can be just be just as slim.
My theory is most writers that struggle with “finding their voice” simply aren’t comfortable writing creatively. Maybe they’re beginners who are still trying to figure out what to do. Maybe their only experience has been in academic or business contexts, where there is a correct way to write things. Perhaps they are unconsciously holding their creative work against rules and expectations that don’t apply. These are very real hurdles for many writers and can stifle their voices before it can squeak out.
The only true way to “develop your voice” and feel more comfortable writing is sheer practice. Keep at it. Write through those ugly, unreadable drafts. Write through those challenging scenes. In the process, you might stumble across a few gems.
But I like practical advice best – something I can do and implement right away. So here is my bit of practical advice.
Once you’ve written something, read it aloud. Do the words sound right? If not, change them. This is how I stopped using the word “frighteningly”. It’s a hard word to say. I don’t ever use the word in conversation. Why should I use it in my writing?
Another tip is run your piece through text-to-speech software. I use Narrator which is built into Windows. This will catch errors and awkward spots that you skimmed over while reading aloud. Plus, it can be really funny to hear the computer mispronounce your characters’ names.
For beginners, what are difficulties and challenges you’ve been facing in your writing? For the more experienced, how do you practice? Are there any specific techniques or prompts that you use? Let me know in the comments.