Back when I was young and foolish – about twenty minutes ago – I thought that the best way to vaunt into the exclusive echelons of “serious writer” status was to mimic The Best. So I tried sounding like John Steinbeck, Anton Chekov, Charles M. Schulz and company. Well, okay. Maybe not Chekov. But every time I sat down to write I’d think, “How would Hemingway or Jane Austen or Charlie Brown approach this?”
If you’ve been around the writing world for any length of time, you’ve probably heard endless minions talk about “finding your writing voice.” Maybe you’ve wondered what that means. Or how to go about it. Here are some tips:
First off, your writing voice is yours. This may seem self-evident, but it’s amazing how many “writers” try to mimic someone else rather than work at developing their own style or “voice.” Don’t be one of them.
Secondly, think of your writing “voice” as you would your spoken voice. How do you sound aloud? What kind of tone, accents, or intonations do you use? Do you declare, express, state, proclaim, utter, whisper, echo, articulate or assert? How do you express yourself verbally? Is your voice strong, sweet, gentle, smooth, raspy, high-pitched or low? Evaluate your writing “voice” in the same terms. Whatever you do, be genuine.
Thirdly, realize that “finding your writing voice” isn’t like searching for the lost city of Atlantis. It’s not all that mysterious. Jettison the cagey cloak-and-dagger stuff, and practice. It’ll come.