Finding your writing voice

Quill and inkwellIt’s one of the hardest but most important things that you need to do as a writer, especially as a writer of fiction. There are so many things that contribute to and influence it, but at the same time it has to be uniquely yours somehow. And the truth of the matter is that there is no miracle cure for finding your writing voice – it takes a long time, and a lot of effort.

I’ve been writing for most of my life in one way or another. I turn 28 next week, and I know I was about 8 or 9 years old when I wrote a story around the length of 20 pages that my wonderful teacher at the time typed up and bound – essentially “publishing” it for me. That probably had a lasting effect on me, no matter how silly that story about robots and the end of the universe actually was. Although my writing came and went at different points throughout school and then university, it also came back often with more ferocity.

Then about five or six years ago I started taking my writing more seriously. I started reading more books, better books, harder books that pushed me out of my comfort zone from time to time. I started looking for different styles of writing, started learning what kinds of writing I was drawn to as an adult – something I had not previously assessed consciously. I started writing. A lot. Things like NaNoWriMo helped me with that (I have reached my goal on NaNoWriMo every single year since 2009, something I’m quite proud of actually). I started writing poetry regularly again, tried my hand at script writing, and this year just now I got back into short story writing. To top this off, I’ve been blogging now for almost two and a half years, and have recently put some regularity back into my posting schedule as you might have noticed.

Despite all of this, I feel like only just now with five novel drafts, two novellas, a movie script, hundreds of poems, a bunch of short stories and some 350 blog posts, only now do I feel like my writing voice is starting to shine through. I noticed it when I was writing my short stories last month in particular – I was not only thoroughly enjoying writing them, but I was liking them when I reread them. It’s not that they’re perfect, far from in fact, but there was something about these stories that really felt like me. Yes, my influences in them are quite clear, but I haven’t just copied someone else’s style or idea and then changed it to suit myself, it’s just that my voice has picked up similar traits to these other writers. The characters in the stories were likeable, the language was more sophisticated without becoming cluttered up, and the humour was natural – I didn’t feel like I had to force things to be funny much, because the situations themselves just became funny. Most importantly, the whole feel of the stories was very me – there were elements of me and the way I think permeating so much of the writing, and it’s the first time I’ve ever strongly felt that.

What I am getting at is this: don’t stress if you feel like you’re struggling to develop your own voice, or if you feel like your voice is too similar to the voice of another writer(s) you like. At some point, your own voice will come, something that carries your influences with it but more importantly bursts with elements that are very much who you are at your core. And nothing can magically make that voice appear – all you can and need to do is to just keep reading and keep writing. Read broadly, across a range of genres if possible (even if you only intend to write in one, you can pick up so much from others), and write broadly, across a range of different forms, as you’ll learn lessons from one form you can apply to another.

Keep reading, keep writing, and be patient. You’ll find your writing voice when it’s time. And then nothing will stop you!

11 thoughts on “Finding your writing voice

  1. I’ve been thinking of writing styles and “writing voices” for the past two days. I was considering a blogpost on the same. And then, I see this! It surprised me, but more importantly, I think it gave me enough inspiration to go ahead with the post. 🙂
    I loved the post. Especially the last paragraph. I’ve always liked my writing style but I don’t know if my writing voice has actually taken shape yet. Like you said, I suppose I’ll know when it does. I’m glad you found yours. Keep going!

    • Oh awesome, well that’s good to know that it made you want to write about the very same topic then! 🙂
      Yeah, I think you do start to notice when your writing voice really takes shape, but if you like your writing style already that is definitely a good start. 🙂

    • Thanks! I think you’re right, it is a time thing definitely. Funny, it seems like this topic has been on a few people’s minds lately. 😛
      How is everything with you anyway? How’s the editing work going? Are you guys still meeting up much? I miss the old writers group, I need to see if there are any writers in this area. I hope so…

  2. Pingback: Finding your writing voice | laiainlovewithlove

  3. Good advice and interesting to hear about your experience!
    I feel like at this point I have a solid writing voice as far as fiction and nonfiction writing goes. But I feel like I’m struggling to find my blogging voice, which is strange. Like it should be the easiest considering it’s meant to be pretty casual and personal. I just have to keep working at it, I guess.

    Also, are you doing camp nanowrimo again in July?

    • I know what you mean – the blogging voice can be hard to get right. I think I have mine now, and I definitely have a few formulas for how I structure different kinds of posts (especially my reviews). But it did take a while to feel comfortable with my blogging voice and really I feel like I’m always tweaking it as time goes on – the blogging world feels like it has changed a lot in the 2.5 years I’ve been at it, which is amazing and scary all at once.
      And yes, I am going to do Camp NaNoWriMo again, probably with the same goal as I had in April and just continuing the same short stories I was working on – I wrote 6 so I might just write another 6 and see how it all goes. Are you doing it?

  4. Pingback: An Amateur Writer’s Blah Blah on Writing :) | Thinkingg Out Loud

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