A writer’s voice is their own unique style of expression. We all have distinctive features like our character and temperament that make us who we are. Who we are is shown through our thoughts and our behaviours. Therefore, a writer’s voice can be likened to an expression of their personality.
Writing in your own voice is authentic. Readers often appreciate reading a piece that is genuine and not contrived. I know I do. But finding your voice as an emerging writer is sometimes a challenge.
Years ago, when I first started writing, I struggled to find my own voice. New writers often modify their writing to sound different, based on their perception of how they think they should sound. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need to tailor our writing to a particular audience. Technical writing is an example of when we should remove our voice from our writing as much as possible. But when writing poetry or prose, our voice is what makes the work authentic.
Look at your favourite writer or poet for instance. You probably like their work because of their unique voice and style of writing. Compare the poems of Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson, for example. Their voices are very different. And then look at the work of Charles Bukowski, which is on a whole other level altogether.
One of my favourite short story writers is Raymond Carver. I like his work for its minimalism and ability to convey everyday things in such an easy-to-relate-to manner. The social conditions of his time are also expressed quite well through his publications. Carver’s writing style can be likened to that of Ernest Hemingway, who also wrote in a minimalistic manner. But the work of both writers is very unique in their own right, with each conveying their own distinctive voice.
So, how do you find your voice as a writer? First of all, try observing the way you speak normally in everyday life. Then, notice your mannerisms, phraseology, patterns and rates of speech. Also notice your tone of voice and the words you tend to emphasise in different circumstances. Then, practice writing the way you speak. Soon, your own voice should begin to flow through your writing naturally. And like anything, practice makes perfect. Of course, a writer should always adapt their writing to the project at hand, but the substance of their voice should remain.
And that’s how you find your voice as a writer: in a nutshell, just be yourself.
© Alex Godley | April 2021