Looking for Your Voice: How To Excel at Writing Like Yourself
As a writer, there are times when my words ooze out naturally onto the paper; other times they are unavailable. When that happens, my initial response is frustration, but inevitably that only turns into moderate writer’s block. Indeed, there have been times when I felt tempted to throw in the towel. From years of research, however, I discovered this is not uncommon. And because voice (along with quality content, of course) is a determining factor of whether your blog will be successful, it is important to understand what this vague concept of “writing voice” entails. Fortunately, you need not look far, for the words are there all along. The trick is to be attuned to bringing them to the surface.
Your writing voice is the stream of thoughts that run through your head, your core passions, your dreams, desires, emotions. And, like a singer who warms up before a show and rests her voice in between, we need to nurture the writing voice in order to write in our own unique key. In order to access your writing voice, here are a few tips:
1. Read Everything
Every professor in graduate school told me the same thing: You can not succeed at writing if you don’t read. It irritated me at first to think of reading pieces of work that were outside of my favorite genres. Then, I opened my mind and quickly realized that reading different writing styles tremendously helps shape my individual voice. The more you gain an understanding of different styles, the more you develop an instinct of what works best for your own writing. Read everything and watch your voice strengthen dramatically.
2. Chill Out
If you are overly worried about your tone or voice while at the keyboard, you will never fall into a natural rhythm or writing. Sit back, get comfy, relax and you will be surprised as to how easily the words start to flow. If you are stressed or anxious, step away from your computer and do something to nourish your soul. Exercise, even in small amounts, eases tension and gets the blood flowing to the brain for greater concentration. It’s better to take a break and return to work rejuvenated than to force it. Chilling out will without fail allow you to find your voice without losing your mind in the process.
3. Take Risks
Push yourself to tackle themes that are outside of your comfort zone; themes that you thought may be too dangerous or embarrassing. Though it’s always important to keep your audience in mind (writing, after all, is a conversation between author and reader), you should never self-censor just because you fear what others may think of your subject matter or your opinions. True artistic growth comes from your ability to shock yourself creatively every now and then. In risk taking, you may just discover a stronger, bolder voice.
4. Write everyday
This may sound obvious but, as a writer, it is not always easy to stay disciplined all of the time. After my daughter was born, I had a hard time fitting writing into my schedule. Life gets busy and it is easy to become complacent. I had to restructure my schedule in order to write every day. I am not a morning person to begin with, so rather than be a miserable mommy, and writer, I stayed up an extra hour each evening to hone my craft. Enforcing a writing schedule, along with writing daily, helps to develop your voice.
Getting constructive critique on your writing is an effective tool to improve your skills. Tangible feedback is a good way to APPRECIATE how others perceive your voice; what’s working well, what needs to be tweaked, etc. An easy way to obtain feedback is by asking for comments on your blog. That way you can see how or if you are connecting with the reader. Another outlet is to attend writing workshops. This is a nice way to receive quality feedback while mingling with others who do have a similar interest.
Take pleasure in your writing. Know that all the words that you need are already inside of you. Embrace your voice, embrace “you,” and enjoy the unique journey.