Finding Your "Voice" as a Writer: This is Not Metaphysics.

The most important thing about becoming a writer of just about anything is finding one’s “voice.” This is not a weird, artsy near metaphysical thing, or at least, it should not be treated as one. Your “voice” as a writer is what makes your writing interesting and readable. This is true if you’re writing about child care, about a gadget you are reviewing or if you’re telling a story.

Figuring out what your “voice” sounds like can be a little intimidating. Most people do not analyze their own writing. Some people over-analyze and are excessively negative about their writing.( This can be both a bad and a good thing. If you feel you are in need of improvement, you will work harder at it. On the other hand if you are too negative you can cripple yourself as a writer.) Some people believe that their writing has no need of improvement–and they may or may not be wrong. Some people are just writing for themselves and it shows because no one can understand it.

In order to analyze your writing, first, get out your older pieces. And by older pieces, I mean stuff you wrote in high school or if you have it, grade school. If you burned your old school work or if you’ve never really written, grab something you wrote at least a year ago. Read it, even if it makes you cringe. Note the problems, note the things that work. Work your way forward until you’re reviewing your most recent pieces. Keep making notes.

Ask yourself the following:

1. In what areas have I improved as a writer? What areas still need improvement?

2. How have my views and opinions changed since I wrote this specific piece?

3. If I had to re-write this, what would I add? What would I remove?

4. Has my grammar, spelling and general vocabulary improved?

5. What recurring ideas phrases or themes do I go back to?

6. What is the general content of the writing. (Mostly fiction, non-fiction, reviews, and so on.)

7. What am I trying to say? How does the end result actually look?

(If these questions don’t do anything for you, you should make up your own.)

From these questions and any general impressions you have on your older work versus your newer work, and idea of what your “voice” as a writer sounds like should emerge.

As an example: I tend to be very straightforward and blunt as a writer. I generally have problems with being diplomatic in my blogging and other social online interaction (which often carries over into my in-person social interactions and verbal communication skills, but that’s a slightly different topic.) I am not a very descriptive or “flowery” writer. My descriptions when present are spare and very brief. I occasionally have trouble bringing an article or other work to a conclusion and will occasionally poke at something forever before I’m satisfied.

I guess you could say in a round about way is that the best way to discover your “voice” as a writer is to review your old work and to keep producing new work to compare it too.


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