How do you discover and refine your writer's voice?
Every writer has their own voice, whether they’re aware of it or not. This isn’t to say that every writer uses the most perfect version of their voice right off the bat—that can only come with time (and some helpful tips courtesy of your friends here at C&T). But at its core, this voice—the essence of who you are—is present every time you put text to page.
So if we all have a unique writer’s voice, how do we discover it and make it the best version of itself? Read on for three quick tips for finding and refining your writer’s voice.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
The first step is both the easiest and the hardest. The best way to uncover your writer’s voice is to write. And do it a lot.
The key to this step isn’t to write the same things over and over again. Experiment with different styles and themes. If you’re ever unsure of where to start, pre-written writing prompts are an excellent way to get into the habit of consistent, constant writing.
As you write, you’ll begin to notice what feels comfortable to you. When you read your writing back to yourself, pay attention to what sounds natural and what sounds forced. And once you’ve figured out the right way to write, you’ve figured out your writer’s voice. The practice shouldn’t stop there, though—keep practicing to develop your voice further. Practice makes perfect, after all.
2. Watch Your Tone
Don’t worry—this isn’t a scolding. Tone here refers to the attitude you approach the subject matter with.
Watch for which style of tone comes most naturally to you. Do you have a dry, quick wit? Are you more conversational? Do you prefer to take a more authoritative stance with your writing?
While certain tones may be more appropriate for particular subjects, it doesn’t mean that you can’t imbue your writing with your own personality—just make sure it’s appropriate and indicative of your voice.
3. Admire, But Don’t Copy
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also a surefire way to stifle your writer’s voice.
You may admire a particular writer and their work, but the reason you do is most likely because they’re original. If you seek to write like them, you’ll only ever succeed in being a copy. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by other writers, or even with taking a page or two out of their own book (so to speak), but you shouldn’t model or base your writing on someone else’s. No one likes a copycat. And more importantly—no one will ever really know who you are if you aren’t writing like, well, yourself.
It may be tempting to follow in the footsteps of other talents, but you’ll never cultivate your own talented voice unless you forge your own path.
While we all have our own writer’s voice, it can be difficult to distinguish it. But keeping these three tips in mind will make the journey of literary self-discovery that much easier—and amplify your voice in the process.