4 Ways to Develop a Unique Writing Voice

4 Ways to Develop a Unique Writing Voice

Are you a writer?

Do you find there are times when you come to write and only get as far as a few pages in, read it back and  don’t know how to carry on?

Your words  look bland on the page, you feel nothing for them.

You sit in front of your computer screen for a while and stew, maybe you put the lack of success down to that all-consuming writer’s block that you’ve heard about?

Spoiler: It’s not writer’s block. You just haven’t found your voice yet.

Voice is the distinct personality, style or point of view of a piece of creative writing, poetry or

even journalism, and it’s specific to you as the author.

Your voice is what makes the writing flow and it’s what will get your recognized, so it’s important to know how to develop it.

The idea of trying to develop a voice is quite daunting and can inevitably become a massive obstacle for you. We’ve all been there.

The first step to find your voice is to start testing techniques.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

It’s going to take trial and error and it won’t be the same for every writer, but here are four of my own techniques to get you thinking.

1. Start writing in a journal

This technique first came to me a couple of years ago while I was reading Virginia Woolf’s Selected Diaries (which, if you want to read a writer with a profound sense of voice, I would highly recommend you buy and read!) The way Woolf talked about such simple, mundane moments in her life with such attention to detail inspired me to do the same.

Your journal entries will never sound like Woolf; her style is personal to her, and if you tried to imitate it your writing will be nothing more than that.

Take the time to sit there and really focus on you. Your thoughts, your feelings, what you see, and describe it in your own words. Talk as freely and openly as possible. After all, this is your journal, only you have to see what you write. Maybe make it interesting and start experimenting with first, second and third person to see how your voice changes.

Making journaling a daily habit will undoubtedly help develop your voice, especially if you start your creative writing straight after you’ve completed your journaling.

writing voice 2. Read out loud

As you write, the more you get caught up in word count and how to describe the cracked coffee cup your character is holding in a new and interesting way, it becomes very easy to lose your voice. This is normal and it can be remedied.

Reading out loud can highlight the parts of your book when your voice sounds choppy and unnatural. If this is the case, throw in a couple of everyday phrases that you hear from people passing on the street.

Another thing to be cautious of when you read out loud is that you’re not sounding like your favorite writer.

This is something that may not immediately make itself apparent to you when you’re proofreading your work, so make sure you take the time to read out a couple of samples to make sure that you’re keeping to your own voice.

3. Free write

A great way for a writer to find their voice is to free write. It empties all of your inhibitions, all the doubt, and every wall that you subconsciously put in place. That voice that is constantly question your every move or word will slowly slip away.

You literally just have to projectile vomit words onto the page. They don’t even necessarily have to make sense at first. After all, the beauty of free writing is write now, edit later.

The point is that it gives you the opportunity to empty your subconscious and scatter it all over the page. Your subconscious is your voice, nobody else’s.

Take an hour as often as you can and just write.

Write about anything and everything and later you can edit what you’ve written into something more refined and pretty. As long as you don’t over edit and let the critic in you take over, your voice will be there.

4. Ask for feedback

So far you’ve been doing everything completely on your own. You’ve spent hours journaling, free writing and reading to yourself and quite frankly your words are beginning to sound like slush in your ears.

At this point you need to do the scariest thing that a writer will ever have to do in their whole existence. Get someone to read your work.

I know, it sounds crazy and your palms are probably doing that unattractive sweaty thing so you

can’t hold your pen anymore, but trust me, you may not like it, but feedback is essential.

You can very easily ask yourself “does this sound like me?” but your answer to that question may not always be the most reliable. Someone who talks to you regularly or reads your work regularly will be able to answer almost instantly.

For all the introverts out there, this doesn’t have to be done face to face, you can do it over email, but don’t disregard the benefit of watching someone read your work and underline the problems with it first hand. Sometimes you need to see it to believe it.

Will these four techniques magically solve all your problems and help you find and maintain your voice? Not necessarily,every writer has a different creative process, but these techniques will certainly help give you a sense of authority over your writing.

It’s inevitable for your voice to slip at times and this can easily be fixed in the editing process.

Being a writer is never easy, you constantly have to learn and develop, and finding your voice isn’t going to be any different. But the point is you can do it!

So, sit down, put your positivity hat on and start trialling techniques.

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  • Katie says:

    These are great tips! I recently started journaling as a way to help me be more creative and incorporate more writing in my day to day. I’ve definitely noticed changes in the way I write and I also have an easier time getting started than I used to.

  • Tanya says:

    These are awesome tips! My favorite one is #2 about reading your work out loud. I do this so often when I write and it really helps.
    Related to this, it might also help to simply tell your story out loud and record your voice. The process of listening to that and writing down what you hear might give you some helpful insights into finding your writer’s voice too.

  • Laura Davis says:

    Hey guys,

    Thank you so much for the positive feedback on my techniques, I’m glad they’ve helped you. Have you got any other techniques that you use to help you find your voice?

  • VZanni says:

    Thank you Laura for your time and efforts assisting others. I am from the senior generation living into the fourth quarter. Finally given the time and opportunity to express the long forever experienced events of life. Finding sites such as The Write Life has given me the excited hope with intense enthusiasm of finishing my story and seeing it published.

  • Hi Laura,

    Your article is very informative and useful for me.

    The above-mentioned points work great for me especially ‘Read Loud and feedback’ part. The first step helped me to write more effectively in order to identify errors from my writing. This process itself works when I stuck with poor grammatical mistakes or faced pronunciation problem. Feedback works excellent for my writing development. It enhances the quality of writing and helps to brings extra mileage on my writing by adding some extra thoughts just discussing with others.

    Thanks for the great sharing.

  • Felisicia says:

    Happy NewYear! Great tips. I had never heard the tip of reading out loud, but it makes perfect sense. Thank you ?

  • Moshe Chayon says:

    Of all the tips you gave here, I have only used the feedback. I think I’ll start journaling too. Thanks

    • Laura Davis says:

      You’re welcome Moshe. Writing in a journal regularly takes a lot of getting used to. Practise at different times of the day to find out when your optimum time for creativity is. It’ll becoming a positive habit before you know it.

  • Adrijus says:

    Nice tips. I do hate to read my own work again. So hard, boring.

    Big challenge for me is finding balance of writing with no BS but also not being too abrasive (in articles meant for clients/website visitors). Still working to find that balance.

  • Margie says:

    Laura….not only are you amazing writer you are also a mind reader. Today is EXACTLY what I needed. I am working on a photo/journal. project…photos, I feel are great, have been stuck on my journal does require some editing. I am a huge journaling person however, sometimes feel I read amateurish so change up my writing and in the end do not sound anything like me……so, I love the reading out loud bit…makes perfect sense. Thank you.

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