Credible. Thoughtful. Snarky.
These three words are my guidelines, the essence of this blog. The foundations of its voice.
It took me all of three minutes to decide on these words. I’ve had these concepts in the back of my mind ever since I began. I remember loading the dishwasher and thinking, “what the hell am I going to write about?”
That’s when I knew I needed to define my voice. I needed to be more relatable than a dishwasher.
This blog is still young, and I’ve recently started doing a little freelance writing, so lately the concept of ‘voice’ in writing has proven to be an interesting topic to me.
Plus I’ve been doing a lot of dishes lately.
I knew from the very beginning that it was important for my voice to come through, to help define my work and my personal brand. I want to share my ideas and views while garnering readers who consistently return. I know my writing voice isn’t the end-all-be-all for these goals, but it is accountable for a good chunk of what I’d consider success.
Before creating this post, I read several guides about developing a writing voice. Most of the steps begin with instructions to define your blog (or book, or character – whatever you’re writing) in so many words. From there, you’re told to just write and be yourself. Easy right? Just say things the way you want to?
“When you find your authentic voice, it’s like stepping into a pair of comfortable shoes.” – Shirley Kawa-Jump*
Yeah, not as easy as it sounds….
There appear to be a multitude of “quick tips” and short cuts to nailing a writing voice, but from my research, it appears most experienced authors agree that the best results come the old-fashioned way: practice, practice, practice.
Now is the part where I rhetorically ask: what doesn’t take practice and effort (besides washing dishes)?
Of course, authenticity is at the base of all this practicing as well. If the reader doesn’t believe you or can’t describe your voice, you aren’t giving them a good enough reason to stick around. If you’re writing without a voice, I hope it’s a technical piece – you’re about as relatable as a dishwasher.
Because this is my personal blog, I want it to be in my personal voice. I’m still polishing the balance of the three qualities listed above (I’ve only been blogging for a few months), but I feel closer to finding my voice with each piece.
“Voice is born from a lot of words and a lot of work…You have to bleed a little. You have to shiver a little. You have to love a lot.” – Holly Lisle
I tend to type out the transcripts of my internal monologues, then go back and edit. Part of editing means sometimes reading out loud to myself. This helps me check how the piece flows. I want my writing to sound conversational and natural. Sure, I get a little fancy with formatting and word choice – these things just elevate my usual voice and keep attention. ‘Getting fancy’ also expands my vocabulary and let’s me experiment to improve.
Writing down my internal monologue is also about freedom. In conversation it’s almost impossible to say everything you’re thinking; topics change too quickly and monopolizing the talk makes people tune out. Plus good luck finding anyone who wants to listen to every thought in your head.
That person would probably have to think you crap rainbows, too.
That’s why writing is special. It breaks down the taboos and weaknesses of talking. Here, one can generally say more in one go than anyone would stand to listen to in conversation.
In writing, monologues are the norm – this is where the importance of voice comes in. If your voice is engaging, people will read pages and chapters and books of what you have to say. A true voice also makes your words more personal, like a one-on-one conversation with a reader that can last hours, days, or even weeks.
A good writing voice gets undivided attention. A dishwasher does not.
“Sometimes by reading the way others write, we feel an echo in ourselves, or the flash of a lighthouse bringing us closer to our own voice.” – Joanne Fedler
If you’re reading this, I’m glad I’ve managed to keep your attention. Hopefully my voice is reaching “lighthouse” levels – something you can relate to.
If that’s not the case, and you’re here to learn more about writing, I hope I’ve fulfilled that need as well.
I think at minimum, I’ve done more here to benefit writing than a dishwasher could.
For those of us still finding our voices, we need to keep practicing our own writing and exposing ourselves to authors who deftly showcase theirs. I wish I had a magic trick to make defining my voice easier, but the best I can do is share my experience so far.
And that experience has led me to be the credible, thoughtful, snarky blogger I am. It has led me to be more relatable than a dishwasher.
If you have any advice about voice and how you’ve developed yours I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
*All quotes are creative property of their authors. All quotes retrieved from this article.