There are more articles online about finding your writing voice than I could list in a week, and then if you hit up your local library there’s even more books than that available. Hell, a quick search on Amazon for “finding your writers voice” shows 23 hits in the first search phrase parameters, see?
See what I mean. I pushed three or four other less specific queries and got even more related titles hitting the search results. But do any of these actually help?
I personally found that Jeff Goins’ posts helped quite a bit to allow me to clarify what I was thinking, and cleared out the noise as it were. The questions thus remained, what was my writing voice; who were my target audience; and what was a trying to say?
Who Are You Really?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Without going into a stupid amount of detail, who are you? If you wander blind into this mess of online business, online writing and specifically self-publishing your own work for profit (build an audience, sell books or suchlike, and earn coin), then you are going to most likely end up doing everything I did, wrong, and overwhelming. I have been claiming to be an author, a writer, for nigh on ten years at this point. I started out doing NaNoWriMo back in 2008 I think. It’s been a long decade full of births, deaths, and major life obstacles. None of these even remotely happened in relation to writing, they all happened in real life. But they form part of who I am.
As a writer, who I am defines who I am as a writer. Does that make sense? We are, none of us, above or separate from our lives. You have kids, great, that experience shines through; do you have a passion for fashion, even the most mundane article you write will be swayed by that influence. Your life is fuel for your writing-self. But do you know who your self is? Often this is a hard hurdle to cross but don’t worry. Use your secondary writer superpower, observe. Just instead of observing others, watch yourself from afar as it were, stand back from your mind and observe what is going on inside your head. There’s an insane number of courses dedicated to helping you do just this, but I can’t suggest even one, because I am a strong believer in the power of doing it the hard way.
What Is YOUR Voice?
OK, now that you know who you are, (or not), watch how you talk; to your kids, to your spouse, to your parents, to everyone. Are you the light conversationalist, who always has something to contribute. Do you sit back and listen until it’s time to add your two cents? Do you know it all, usually, and are you right in your knowledge. Do you like to dominate the scene and push the product? How do you interact with the world around you? This will form the basis of your voice, it’s not everything, but it’s really hard to write or speak counter to your true nature.
Knowing your style really helps in forming your voice into what you need it to be. For example, I don’t usually say much of anything unless I have knowledge that nobody else can provide. I sit back, I listen, and eventually I add my bit and get on with more observing and listening. I am an introvert of the old breed. Despite having five kids and an extrovert for a wife, I still need this time after they’re all in bed, and an hour in the morning before they get up or I lose my mind. I know this about myself. It’s taken a while to learn that only a few things work, and solitude is one of them. But as a writer I have a few things that help. I am comfortable being wrong, having opinions and being confronted on those opinions. I know what I am certain of, and don’t feel the need to convince you of their truth. I will share that knowledge and those opinions online (like this article) with impunity, defending what needs to be defended, and ignoring the hate and negativity as needs be. I cannot lecture. I cannot preach. I am a conversationalist. I will talk to you or write at you as though we were sharing a pot of tea or having a beer together, casually.
Does This Voice Support Your Message?
Am I selling? Do I need to convert the masses? Should you buy my course?
No. As I just said, my voice is not that of a preacher, teacher or professional. I am a professional, in a few different areas, taxes and personal finance come to mind, but I am not selling that, services or courses, to you. I will talk to you as a friend. You are free to listen (read) or ignore me as you see fit. If what I am typing is interesting, you’ll keep reading, and maybe even recommend it to others.
What is my message. That’s a complex question, not to ask but to answer. My message is that life is hard, everything is possible, and chaos is the natural state of all living things. I talk about all aspects of these things, I am a father, an ex-husband, a current husband, a recovering addict, an accountant, a writer, a mentor, this list can keep going on for a while yet. In this, my author’s website, mostly I talk about the aspects of writing within such a crazy life, and the business side of writing as the mood takes me.
Does my voice fit this message? I think so. I don’t preach it, you’re free to take or leave as you’d like, and I’ll not be hurt either way. Do you know what your message is that you’re trying to convey? Does your voice fit that message? Time for some navel-gazing if you can’t answer these two questions. No shame in whatever the answers might be, but clarity is paramount.
Be Yourself, Everybody Else Is Already Taken
I guess what I’ve been trying to show and tell here in an admittedly long-winded approach, is that the answers your voice, your message, it’s all inside of you. Don’t try to copy Jeff Goins, or Shaunta Grimes, or any of the other’s on Medium or elsewhere that you’ve read.
If it fits and your comfortable, by all means, emulate their practices and approaches, but it has to fit your style, your voice.
You are unique, and what will hook your readers and sell your words is that your authentic and unique. As Oscar Wilde is credited with saying:
Keep on being your awesome self and thanks for reading this far. I truly appreciate it, maybe share the article if you got something out of it? That’d be amazing of you. Thanks. Duke.