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.
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Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.
6 replies on “How to Find Your Writing Voice”
Agreed. So I better get back to writing. Thanks Peter!
May your writing go well today.
“A not so good voice pushes readers away or calls attention to the author without regard for the reader.”
None of us want to push readers away. There is so much out there to read they can easily move on to someone else’s sentences.
You ask if putting in our time is the only way to find our voice. I think it’s probably the best way but we can also get input from others. I can read something from someone and after a while as you brought up I can recognize their voice. And when I read something that doesn’t sound like them, I do them a service to point it out. We can be open to that kind of feedback. Because there is a consistency you mentioned that will follow us from piece to piece no matter what the subject. I think we will be recognizable. We want that. That is such a far cry from being chameleon-like. I sound like what I think you want to hear. In the meantime, I can’t even recognize me.
I think the whole topic of voice is so important. Glad you wrote the post, Peter.
Anne, yes, feedback from others is so important.
Critique groups have been critical in my growth as a writer. I’ve never thought of them as helping hone my voice, but I guess they have.
Thanks for the insight.
Peter… I agree wholeheartedly… finding our voice has no easy formula. It is in the writing of the words.. we develop the part of us that many call passion, our niche our voice our gift from God…we grow… but only if we dust it off and begin the process. DO the work sit and write. read write and read and then write more.
Great reminder and challenge. not to stop.
btw.. do you have a set amount of words for a daily goal ?? How do you as a full time writer measure your vision/goal/standard for the day ??? Or not at all ?thanks
Nancy, that’s a great question for me to consider! Thanks for asking it.
Usually my goal is time: at least an hour each morning but no more than three.
However, when I was pushing to finish my book, “God, I Don’t Want to Go To Church,” I aimed for a thousand words a day. That kept me on track and I finished ahead of schedule.
BTW, I’m thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year and that will definitely be a daily word count goal: 2,500 a day if I only write on weekdays!