This article forms part of the Write, Publish, Promote Mentoring Program tutorial notes.
When we read the word voice we instantly think of the spoken word. So how does this relate to our writers voice? Is it the same? The answer is yes and no. We need our everyday voice, our thoughts, our speech in order to write but if we were to write as we spoke our work would be rather flat and monotone. When we speak we often cut our words short, do not complete sentences and rely on the response of others. Our writers voice is much more than the words that fill our head and end up on paper. It is our personality as a writer. It is what makes our work shine. It is part of what draws readers to our novels. Your voice is not your style, although style is part of it, and it is not your tone, although this is also part of it. It is your unique way of looking at the world. It is something that is uniquely yours and something you should be proud to own.
Your writing voice is not only your unique way of putting words onto paper but your distinctive look at the world. It is made up of a combination of your experiences, beliefs, morals and all things in between. Your voice may vary as you write different genre but there will always be a level of uniqueness as it is your voice that makes you the writer you are.
As readers and writers we all have favourite authors who inspire us not only as writers but as a person. We often wish we could write just as good as they do. What is it that we like about them? It likely to be their writer voice. A voice that is unique to them. One which we can never match, and should never want to. As a writer you should never compare yourself to another but instead understand that each writers voice is unique. Finding your own voice as a writer is an empowering and uplifting task. To find our voice is to use words to find oneself. We not only inspire others but we inspire ourselves, finding a uniqueness we can share with the world.
How do you find your ‘voice’?
To some extent your writing voice happens by itself. The more you write the more it develops and the stronger it becomes. Our stories come from our subconscious. It is experiences and unresolved conflicts that often inspire our stories. Maybe you hear something on the news that challenges your thoughts or morals. Maybe your child does something which touches your heart or even seems rather strange. Use your life, your passions, to write freely. Let your inner writing voice flow. Facilitate your writing voice by giving it freedom to say the things it needs to say in its own unique way. We do not talk exactly like everyone else so we should not aim to write exactly like anyone else.
Morality is essential to stories. Regardless of the genre morals always plays a role. Use your morals to connect with your voice. What is most important in your life? Do the good guys always win? What is ok and what is not ok to you? Our morals are all different. Don’t be afraid to challenge the morals of others.
People watching is another great way to find your voice. Watch others and form opinions, being careful not to allow these opinions to act as a form of judgment in your interactions with them. Use these opinions to form your voice within your characters and plot. Who is this person? Are they hiding something? What do they want? Who do they rely on? What is their ideal place? How do they make you feel? Observe your environment as well as the people in it.
Discover yourself. Last month you were assigned the task of writing about yourself. This gave your tutor an insight into who you were as a student but also had you thinking about yourself. You were given the opportunity to write freely. To tell your tutor whatever you felt was relevant about you as a person, your life and your writing. This was the beginning of finding your voice. Finding the freedom to express in a way that only you can. As your writing progresses revisit yourself. Write about you. What are your artistic and cultural influences? Describe yourself using adjectives. Write about what you like to read and why? Write about your favourite author? Who inspires you and why? Write like you have never written before, with honesty and freedom.
Read your own writing out loud. Reading out loud differs greatly from reading in your head. When we read out loud we hear the voice. When we read to ourselves we think the words. Describe your voice. Is it powerful or weak? Does it resonate with you? Who are your readers? Does your voice allow them to connect with you as a writer?
Finding your voice is the key to getting dedicated followers and readers. By allowing ourselves the freedom to express our morals, thoughts and opinions within our writing we are being ourselves. We are standing strong to who we are as a writer. We are not only sitting in our place as a writer comfortably but using our voice to connect with others in order to be heard and appreciated for what we have to offer.