How To Find Your Writing Voice
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
It’s not an easy thing to find your own authentic writing voice.
The problem is, as readers, we all have our favourite writers and we love how they write, and how their writing voice sounds.
It’s therefore all too easy to try and replicate that by trying to write using their style and their voice, whether consciously or subconsciously.
You may be more or less successful at doing that. But, the issue here will always be that it isn’t really you: it isn’t being true to yourself and it won’t really help you to find your own voice. It’s going to feel forced and awkward when you are writing like someone else, and it will sound artificial when people are reading it.
I’m not referring here to writing something in the style of someone else using your own voice. That’s absolutely fine and, in fact, I would positively encourage you to do that.
But you can only do that after you have found your own voice, and you are confident within it.
For many years, I consciously tried to replicate my favourite writers when I was writing. Eventually, I discovered that it doesn’t work, because you break your own flow of words by constantly putting them through a filter of “what would they say here?” or “how would they describe this?”
I suppose it’s a little like the difference between living your life your way and trying to live it the way you think somebody else would. You would be so busy thinking “what would they do?” that you wouldn’t really be focusing on what you want to do, living in the moment and just enjoying life.
Unless you are able to let your writing flow through you, and out of you, in the least obstructed way, it’s extremely hard to get your creative juices engaged. Which then means you don't get into that magical zone when you write, where the words and story begin to take on a life of their own and you only discover what you were going to write when it actually appears on the page in front of you.
I think the best way to find your writing voice is to let yourself write, without placing any limitations on what you think your writing voice should sound like, and without analysing what you are about to write. Just write.
This is especially important when you are writing your first draft, which I am going to discuss in more detail in another post.
The more you just write, without any preconceptions of how you should be writing, the more you will naturally find your own voice coming to life, and begin to shine through in your writing. It’s an organic process that happens over time and, when you read back through previous stories, you can actually see and hear it finding its way out of you and into your writing.
I think short stories are very helpful with this process, as you are able to practice writing a complete story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. And you can read that back later, to start to recognise and assimilate your own writing style. Also, If you publish them on a platform somewhere, you can get valuable feedback from readers and other writers, all of which helps you naturally shape your writing voice to be what it wants to be.
I also recommend writing in different genres, as that can be helpful to practise applying your style to diverse story-lines and plot schemes, letting your writing voice loose and giving it a more versatile, rounded tone.
In summary: don’t try to write like anyone else, let your writing out in the least restricted way possible, especially in the first draft, and keep practising, honing and sharpening your writing skills.
You will find your own writing voice will come flowing out in no time!