People talk about finding your writer’s voice and it seems like such an odd expression given that we are (typically) born with voices which develop as we grow. And that’s the point they develop as we learn to express ourselves and they certainly develop as we write more.
I found my writer’s voice through journaling. Writing has always been where I made sense of the world. I would write about my day, about people and experiences and try to understand why I felt the way that I did.
This was a different voice to the one that wrote training manuals, blogs for clients and words for their books. In these scenario’s my voice is always someone else’s, but that is another story. While it brought me enjoyment writing for others, it was when I wrote for me that I felt connected to the inner me.
It’s one thing finding you and your writer’s voice through private writing and quite another sharing it with the world. I find my style is instructional, I love to teach and mixed up with stories, because I also love stories. What I notice is that no matter what I write, it reveals something of who I am. That is my writer’s voice. I didn’t find it, it simply evolved.
The question of how do you find your writing voice will continue to confound people. The answer, for me, is quite simple, and a little bit scary. All you have to do is to start writing and keep writing. Stop looking for your voice. The more you search for anything, the more frustrating it will be and the further away it will seem.
The magic in any writing comes in the editing. Just like in life. What I mean by that is in life you find who you are, where you show up, demonstrate courage, change and grow s you live your life and you’ll find those same qualities as you write.
The magic is in the editing
If you are anything like me, your voice will have been suppressed. You will have been told to shut up or children are seen and not heard. Later in meetings at work, you may have found yourself spoken over or ignored and the voice you long to share takes a back seat, afraid to be witnessed.
Writing in a journal frees that voice trapped by cruelty, writing blogs gives you a chance to learn how to express yourself. It’s where you share your knowledge, skills, experiences and lessons learned.
What’s the worst that can happen? Yes, people won’t read them.
The best is, as your writing improves with time the way that you are viewed changes. When it comes time to unleash your wisdom on the world in a book you will have practised and although you may feel shaky to start off with, like in life you will find your voice.
Give yourself time, keep writing and give yourself permission to grow with each word.
Listen to the world around you to find your writer’s voice
How often do you stop and listen? I remember going to a presentation by Nancy Kline and there was a simple exercise we had to do. Listen to the person we had been partnered with for five minutes. I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t. I was to give my full attention to the person in front of me and not think about something else. It was hard, but it taught me a lesson and that was if I don’t pay attention I will miss the beauty of what is around me.
When I go for a walk each morning, I step out into a world that is alive with the sounds and smells of Mother Nature. There is so much to hear every day and some days I will stop and sit on a rock and allow my hearing to extend across the hills.
What can I hear I ask myself? This is so different from what I could hear when I lived in a town. When I ask that question I always hear new sounds. It amazed me that I could hear the cars on the distant motorway and I would wonder about the lives of the drivers, where they were going and why?
Listening allows us to hear others people’s voices and by that I don’t mean the tone or the pitch, I mean the quality of who they are. You get that when you read books and blogs. You will get a sense of who that person is and how their experiences have shaped their lives. I think that writing shows where your passion lies. Passion for life, values, experiences, and energy.
How can you see yourself in your writing?
That’s a tough one isn’t it? One way is to distance yourself from what you have written and see it from the third person. Another you if you will looking in to observe and be a witness. Could you imagine yourself as a character in a book or a film? What do you feel when you watch or read about them? Curious isn’t it when we lend our imaginations to seeing ourselves and hearing our voice from another perspective.
When you write, not only does your written voice change but so do you. That is the power of writing and words. Things will happen that will help you to uncover who you are and instil a level of confidence that will help to shape your life and your business.
Blogging your book gives you a chance to show others who you are and you get the added benefit of building your brand as you do it. Another bonus is that you get feedback on your writing and with that you can implement this feedback if you desire to do so. There is nothing quite like being heard.
The world and your writer’s voice
Your voice is how you see and share your world. Your voice is full of your experiences and personality. Your voice is also how others feel and experience you. Of course, you can’t control how others feel about you, but you can help them to understand who you are by the way that you express yourself through your writing. Your voice is your value. I have a nifty acronym called value which I use to remind me of my voice.
VALUE (Values, Avatar, Love, Unique, Energy)
- Values as the foundation of your life and business
- The value you bring – how you add value
- How are you are valued by others?
- We live our lives by our values and we know when things cross them
- When you write from your heart your values will shine through.
Values are ways of being that mean something important to you. Your values are the qualities that you want to present to the world. They are what you believe are important and they are the foundations of who you are. Values give you focus and direction and fuel to your passion, purpose, dreams and vision.
Conversely, when, what you do is not in alignment with your values you will feel unhappy, lost and without focus. You will also feel at odds when you are with people who cross your values and in harmony with others who make your heart sing.
Avatar has two meanings here, one is the reader that you write for and another is how you help your reader with your writing. An avatar is a divine teacher. When you think about your writing ask yourself how would you like to inspire your reader? What kind of outcome would you like for them?
We can never guarantee that someone reading our book or blogs will achieve the outcome we desire, but as long as they get something from it then our work is done. We look at our reader and the questions they are asking in chapter…
Write about what you love from your heart. The mind often takes over when we write. I find that I’ll start to write something and my fingers are racing along as I unconsciously download and then something will distract me and my rational mind says what next, why are you writing that and the moment is lost. Then my writing becomes stiff and not at all what I want to say.
The best way is to connect to your muse and allow the flow to come. I talk about doing things in chunks (How to be a more productive writer) and if you have brainstormed the night before, what happens the following day is that your muse will be ready to help your words flow.
Every voice has a unique melody. I notice that the authors I gorge on have a distinctive way of writing, I can almost hear them speaking their books to me. I also believe that we all have a song in our hearts and that is what we are releasing when we writing. Think how music moves you. It’s that feeling you want to give your reader.
There is an energy to your writing. A tempo and a pace. Think of a piece of writing that you love, what is the quality of the energy that vibrates from it? What words come to mind as you read it that tell you about the energy of that person? Now do the same for a piece that you are writing. How would you describe the energy of the piece? And I double dare you to read something you wrote a few years ago, how would you describe the energy of that?
How to find your writing voice
Start writing and when you read it back what words would you use to describe what you have just read? Is it fun, straight, quirky, melodious? Then ask the question is this how I talk? I like to think that when I write that I add in a little sense of humour. So, I’d want my writing to feel like it’s fun when it needs to be.
However, as I said earlier, I like to teach in my books and blogs so it will also be instructional. Do I talk like a teacher? Well, yes I do when I get asked something technical. I also try to get concepts over in a simple way. Do I do this? Yes, I do. I step back and consider if what I am about to say is going to fly over someone’s head or will it make sense? I want to get people thinking and my biggest desire is to inspire.
What I also consider is my ideal reader (see avatar above) and I’ve discovered that they are action takers. They like me read something with a journal in their hands. They make notes and work out how to implement what they have learned and they are full of ideas.
Read other people’s work
What I also advise is to go and look at the books (read the reviews too) and blogs that you enjoy reading. I advise my writers to look at books a lot because when you know what you like to read, you will know how to get a sense of how you might write.
Grab a journal and review a few books that you love. Have the idea of writers voice in your head and write what you discover and what they mean to you. Make a note of phrases that you love. Think of how they emotionally connect with you. Why do you love their writing? Conversely is there something that you don’t like? Why is that?
Share your writing
If you are feeling brave share your writing with some trusted friends and ask them what they learn from your written voice. Be prepared to take critique and not to treat it like criticism. Is the feedback something you need to work on.
Read your writing as if you were your ideal reader
Read your writing back and ask that all important question would you read it if it weren’t you? If you don’t like it learn to change it. This might not be that easy, after all you have just written it and it’s your baby. But on this occasion it makes sense to take yourself out of the equation and become a reader.
What about movies, TV and music?
What about things that you like to watch and music that you listen to? I loved a series called After Life by Ricky Gervais. I found myself both laughing and crying at the same time and wishing I could write in a way that moved people to rave about how emotional they felt like the stories connected with their hearts.
One of my go-to bands is Nirvana. As I listen to the opening bars of Come as you are, I am moved emotionally and I want to get up and dance wildly. Music is primal and speaks to the emotional part of our brain. I often find myself watching TV or movies and listening to music captivated and feeling that part of me that wants to inspire others through writing has been poked and woken up.
Just as you are either turned on or off by what you watch and listen to others will notice that about your writing. They will be able to tell if you don’t enjoy writing, it will show all over the page because your voice will be missing.
People feel your emotional state when you write.
Think back to how you write in your journal when you are feeling in need of getting it all out. That’s the raw naked you.
To inspire your creativity go back to your favourite music and notice how that makes you feel or watch one episode of your latest favourite box set. With any luck you’ll be invigorated and ready to write.
Stop worrying about others
Finally, stop worrying about what others will think, connect to your muse and allow your words to flow. If you spend time worrying about others you will never write and never find your voice. Worrying about others will stunt your creativity and your writer’s voice.
Imagine the energy you feel when you write. Now imagine that you have given all of the wonderful positive vibes to the dark. Which would you rather harness and utilise?
What I often do with my writing is to plan the blogs out, write and then leave them until I feel that my muse is ready to put her energy into the piece. Sometimes a piece will never see the light of day. This isn’t necessarily about what others think, but more that it’s not right for right now and that will show if I publish.
When you give energy to what others think you are giving part of you away and that’s not great, is it? It’s far easier to accept that some people will love your writing and some won’t and that’s ok. This is where your private journal will let you explore and find clarity.
Never compare your writing with others
You can always learn from others, but comparing yourself and your writing with someone else’s will kill your writing dead, before you even start. I find that when I compare myself with others it kills my creativity. What I do instead is ask what do I love about what someone else has written and what can that teach me?
The question is are others better than us or just different? I like to think that they are different rather than better me. I bet if you find a writer that you adore and if you were able to read their first scratchings you’d be amazed at how awful their writing was.
I know mine has changed and improved over time and the more I do it the better it will become. Focus on your writing and allow yourself to grow through it. Say to yourself I love to write and my voice deserves to be expressed and heard.
Enjoy writing and allow your voice to emerge. Stop looking for your voice because it’s already there and when you think you have found it, keep developing it, keep writing and keep putting your content out there.
Before you get to the practical stuff write 500 words with no holds barred. This is a piece that is not for anyone but you. Simply connect to your muse and write from your heart.