Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Use Your Own Voice

Have you found your writer's voice? A question asked in many articles on the craft of writing or by teachers of creative writing. Or perhaps by other writers. Beginning writers are sometimes perplexed by what a writer's voice actually is.

In simple terms, it's a style of writing that is unique to you alone. It may not emerge with your first effort at writing a short story or essay, but as you write more and more, your writer's voice begins to take form.

When I was a newbie writer, I had the good fortune to meet a children's picture book author who agreed to critique my work. We lived only minutes from one another and spent an afternoon now and then at a kitchen table, hers or mine, going through stories we'd written. She was a published author at the time, and I was not, so I felt especially blessed that she'd agreed to this arrangement.

One afternoon, after she'd gone through a new story I'd shown her, she turned to me and said, "You are so lucky. You've found your voice. It takes some writers a very long time to accomplish that."

I can't tell you how I was able to do that early on, but I can tell you one way to delay finding your own voice. That's to copy the style of writers you admire. We all have authors we especially like to read. We admire their  work because the stories they write appeal to us. So why not write just like Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts or David Baldacci? The answer is that you are not any of those people. You're you! And your writing needs to have your voice, not anyone else's.

At one point in your writing life, your voice will show itself loud and clear. When talking about personality, psychologists and counselors frequently advise people to "Be yourself" rather than trying to be something you're not. If you admire a horror fiction writer, fine, but don't try to use his dark voice in your teen romance. Make it all yours.


  1. I have no idea whether or not I've found my voice. I don't know where to find it, but I think it has a bit of humor in there somewhere. ;)

  2. For sure, BJ, it does. That bit of humor will serve you well forevermore. :)