Have you ever read another writer’s post or article and thought, “I wish I knew how to write like them?” If you feel like your writing is missing a special element, it may be your unique voice. For your writing to reach your desired audience, you need to find your writing voice.
Your writing voice is what takes a blog post or social media caption and makes it unique. Each writer can develop their own voice based on their personality, beliefs, or even values. The type of content you’re creating will even have an effect on how your writing voice sounds.
Your writing voice naturally develops over time, but you can create a solid foundation for it with the tips below. The foundation will represent your core values or “brand.” The first thing you need to do is understand what a writer’s voice is.
What is a “Writer’s Voice”?
Have you heard a phrase and thought, “That sounds like something my friend would say”? If you understand that sentiment, then you get the essence of a writer’s voice. It’s similar to your speaking voice, except on paper.
Your writer’s voice encapsulates your personality, perspective, and has the added element of writing style. When you can hear someone’s actual voice time after time, you begin to feel familiar with the person. Your writing voice is exactly like that. Your readers will learn your quirks and commonly used phrases by reading things that you’ve written.
Writer’s voices are unique and change with time and experience. Don’t feel like you’re trapped under your writing voice forever, though. People grow and change all the time. Your writing voice will, too.
Earlier, we mentioned that sometimes phrases sound like something a friend or relative would say. That feeling comes from familiarity and consistency. You’ve probably spent enough time with them that their personality is something you know well. In a similar vein, readers will get to know your unique voice and recognize it in your writing.
As you find and develop your writer’s voice, make sure that it’s a voice you can keep up. A writer’s voice will help build a readership. A consistent writer’s voice will maintain that readership. This unique voice keeps readers coming back.
How to Find your Voice as a Writer
If you’re having trouble determining your voice, here are a few suggestions to try:
Write as much as possible
Finding your writer’s voice takes practice. The more you write, the better. Writing about a variety of topics can be helpful, too. When you do this, you can look over each piece to see what your writing habits are.
Your writing voice may change depending on what type of writing you’re doing. Finding your tendencies across topics will help develop that core voice that stands out in all of your pieces. Those core traits of your writing voice are what will help your readers identify you regardless of what you’re writing about.
Writing about different topics will help you for another reason, too. It will help you figure out what you like to write about. This is important because your writer’s voice will come more naturally when you like what you’re writing.
Once you know what topics you like to write about, play with the formatting. How you present your information is part of your voice. Are you the type of person that likes writing long, winding explanations? Or do you like short paragraphs with bullet-pointed lists?
Test out different methods and ask yourself these questions:
- Did that feel natural? Or forced?
- Would you talk like that in real life?
- Is this language you use normally?
Once you’ve done that, you can add another layer to the process. Try writing from a different perspective. Take note of your favorites when you do this. Don’t stress out if you feel like you need to write multiple pieces from a particular perspective.
Tone of voice is another variable you can play with to give your piece more personality. Do you want to sound more like a teacher? Or a caring friend? Casual or formal? There are lots of options to experiment with. You can even combine methods. Casual teacher? See which one feels the best for you.
It’s important to take as much time as you need with this process. Finding your writer’s voice is a lifetime pursuit. You will make adjustments over and over, but the decisions you make in the beginning will follow you.
Read as much as possible
Reading other writers’ work will give you a preview of different writing voices. When you’re looking for other things to read, pay attention to:
- Writers that seem to be similar in personality to you
- Writers that write in your niche
- Writers that you already enjoy reading
Once you have a stack, get reading. Find which ones you like or relate to the most and learn from them. Do you like the unique phrases that they use? Do you like the way they tell stories? Do you like the way they format their writing? All of these things can help you discover more about the kind of writing voice you want to create.
The things you don’t like are important, too. You can learn a lot about what you don’t want your writer’s voice to sound like. Ask yourself what you didn’t like. Was the writer’s voice too serious? Did they take too long to tell stories? Were they too aggressive? Too sales-driven?
You may not like a writer’s voice overall, but that doesn’t mean their writing won’t help you. A piece that you didn’t like overall may have a portion that you thought was well-written. Take note of all the things that stand out to you and use them to find your writing voice.
Relate to your readers
One of the most important parts of any piece of writing is the audience. You are writing for them, after all. Get familiar with who they are and what they like.
For example, you wouldn’t talk to a parent or elder the way you would talk to a close friend. There are different dynamics to these relationships that affect the way you approach them. You and a friend may be on equal footing, whereas you and a relative may have more of a power imbalance in the relationship. This could affect how formal or informal you are when you communicate.
The same goes for your writing voice. Decide what role you are assuming as a writer. Are you teaching something? Are you looking for others who share the same experiences as you? Are giving advice? Are you selling something? All of these will affect how you relate to the reader.
Regardless of your relationship with the reader, you want to watch your language. No, not profanity. Watch your word choice. Writing like an Ivy-league graduate may seem attractive, but consider your audience. What’s their average reading level? Will they relate to your complex language?
It’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution when you aren’t familiar with your audience yet. As your audience grows, you’ll have a better idea of what they respond to. Wait until then to push those limits. You don’t want to alienate your audience before you even have one.
Keep in mind that you may use different voices for different pieces, and that’s okay.
Know Your Purpose
Another crucial part of any piece is knowing your “why?”. When you understand why you’re writing about a topic, you’ll have a greater sense of direction. That direction will help you flow through the piece with a unified message that is easier to understand.
To put it simply: When you understand why, your audience is more likely to understand why. Knowing your purpose can determine a piece’s success.
Research can help you develop a clear purpose. Read all that you can about a topic and get specific. The more niche your writing topic, the easier it will be to understand.
This may sound obvious, but your writing voice is unique to you. That uniqueness is what will build your readership. Use the things that make you different to your advantage. There is always a reader looking for what you have to offer.
Readers return because they feel like they know you. They will read what you write because they relate to your voice. That provides a sense of comfort. So, you owe it to yourself to be as sincere as possible when you are finding your writer’s voice.
This may come easier if you already have a brand in place. That means you have already done the work of figuring out what you want to represent for other people. If you haven’t solidified your brand yet, start with who you already are.
Ask your friends and family to describe you in a few words. There will be overlap. Once you have the words that overlap, look them up. Read the definitions and use the ones you want to help you develop your writer’s voice.
Using these tips, you can practice writing to find your unique writer’s voice. Remember that your writer’s voice is a constant work in progress. It will change as you change. Developing a strong base at the beginning will help you adjust as time goes on.
Your writing voice is already inside of you. It is you. These tips are just meant to encourage your voice to come out. Your readers will thank you. Let us know if these tips helped you find your voice by commenting below.