Last week we considered four aspects of a writer’s voice. Today, we’ll discuss how to find our voice. This isn’t mysterious or evasive; there’s no multistep process—and it isn’t hard to understand. Seriously. Here are four thoughts on our writing voice.
We Already Have a Voice: We need to recognize that if we write, we have a voice. It may not be a great voice or maybe not even a good one—perhaps it’s a voice no one wants to hear—but we do have a voice. In the spirit of René Descartes, We write, therefore we have a voice.
We Should Work to Make Our Voice Better: Just because we have a voice, doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. If we want our words read, we need to work on becoming better; that includes improving our voice. Our words need to touch readers in one way or another. A good voice does that. A not so good voice pushes readers away or calls attention to the author without regard for the reader.
We Should Work to Make Our Voice Consistent: Although our voice will vary for different genres and purposes, we need to strive for overall consistency. Our readers, like our friends, should know what to expect each time they read something from us. Just as people with multiple personality disorders are challenging to be around, so too for writers with an inconsistent voice.
We Fine-Tune Our Voice by Writing: The first three points are the background. The key is to take the voice we already have and then work to make it better and consistent. We do this by writing—a lot: every day, month after month, year after year. There’s truth in needing to write a million words and put in 10,000 hours.
Before I hit those milestones, I had a decent enough voice, but I needed to log the time to make it better. And I will continue to strive to improve.
So join me in celebrating the voice we already have and then working to make it better—by writing a lot.