What Is a Writing Voice?
A writing voice is simply putting you and your personality on paper. It’s writing with words that communicate, “This is who I am, and this is what I care about.”
Let’s start by reading blog posts by two writers with distinctive writing voices.
“So I’m a mess and we’re all failures — at least all the honest of us are.
And the truth is, no one ever runs before they take baby steps.
So I scratch down these 25 points, like my own sanity manifesto, and there are a thousand different ways in a thousand seasons to make a life glorify God.
I scrawl out mine, which would be different than most wayfarers and sojourners, who knows, but I make a place for it on the fridge and it’s not a law, but a scaffolding for the shaky, struggling days.”
Ann Voskamp, “Crazy Stressed Days” blog post
“Back when I used to read magazines for knowledge and insight (as opposed to now, when I’m really just looking for colorful pictures of the contents of celebrities’ grocery carts), I always loved articles that tried to teach me the smart way to pack a suitcase.
The how-to essays would inevitably advise me to take just five items of clothing (look! it can be tank top! or a bikini top! and look! it can be a shawl! or a sarong! and look! if you turn the arms inside out and wrap them counterclockwise around your torso area, you can transform your long-sleeve t-shirt into a slinky evening gown! and don’t forget a jaunty wide-brimmed hat!) – because that is all any sensible girl could possibly need.
So the information was, as you can see, terribly practical.
And I don’t know about you, but I would have major anxiety if I had to travel with only five items in my bag. Because when I travel, I like options.”
Sophie Hudson, aka BooMama “And the Kitchen Sink Is Going” blog post
You can hear the difference in these writing voices, can’t you? And can you imagine what kind of people Ann Voskamp and Sophie Hudson are?
Think of some words to describe Ann’s writing voice. I think of honest, vulnerable, God-focused, poetic.
Now think of words to describe Sophie’s writing voice. I think of funny, self-deprecating, focused on everyday-ness.
So how do you get started on discovering your writing voice?
Write down 10 words to describe you and your personality.
Some words to consider…
Compassionate, intellectual, sincere, funny, bold, brazen, gentle, edgy, polite, energetic, truthful, faithful, quirky, self-deprecating, encouraging, challenging, gracious, patient, sentimental, vulnerable, friendly, wise, honest, transparent, real, strong, happy, joyful, peaceful, creative, insightful.
If you need some help, ask a family member or friend to describe your personality.
Now consider if those words you chose are coming through in your writing.
Answer the following two questions. Your answers can be anything about what you want to write about and how you want your readers to respond or to think of you when they read your writing.
I want to be a writer who….
(My answer: encourages; points to Scripture; makes my reader laugh some; helps readers appreciate the sacred in the ordinary)
I don’t want to be a writer who…
(My answer: creates conflict; is harsh; is political; judges)
Write several paragraphs about a topic you care about or find a few paragraphs of something you’ve written previously.
Read your writing aloud. Does it sound like you? Does it sound like you’re talking to someone? It should because you are talking to someone: your reader! Write like you’re having a conversation with a person.
We’ll talk more about writing voice in my next blog post.
Do you have any tips for finding your writing voice? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!