Three Ways to Cultivate Your Unique Writing Voice

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Your favorite author’s voice stands apart. When you pick up one of their books, you can almost feel them telling the story. It’s a sign of mastery, and it’s entirely unique. Developing your own voice as a writer isn’t as intentional as you may think, and that’s both a blessing and a curse. After all, just because you don’t have to focus on your voice as you work doesn’t mean you don’t have to work.

Practice Writing from Your Own Perspective

You know how every writing teacher you ever had pressured you to keep a journal? Turns out, journaling really does have its uses. Although you may struggle to engage with a daily record of your life, you can use your journal as more than just a diary. Test new characters. Give them the frustrations you deal with, or write a scene you witnessed in real life. Your unique voice encompasses far more than sentence structure and vocabulary. Your voice reveals the world through your eyes. Take notes on things that interest you, try copying or rewriting overheard conversations, and use your journal to explore your world. This experience will help you cultivate your own unique style and perspective.

Read – A Lot

Good writers are good readers. You’ve probably heard this advice before. You may have heard it more often than the sacred journaling commandment. Just because you hear it often, however, doesn’t mean it’s just a trite cliché. Reading is a writer’s best training tool. New words stick in your brain, and fresh ideas titillate your imagination. Eventually, these new elements make their way into your work.

But how does someone else’s work help you find your own voice? For starters, understand that your voice is already full of borrowed elements. Everything you read as a child, student, and young adult developed how you write today. Which author first introduced you to the magic of parenthetical asides? Whose overuse of hyphenated adjectives made you swear them off forever? You probably can’t remember, and that’s how it should be. Even if you can remember, though, that’s fine. Most authors can point out major influences in their own work. Eventually, you will be able to as well.

Write – A Lot

This is the most important step of all. No matter how many characters you work with or how conscientious your word choice may be, you will never develop a unique voice without spending many, many hours behind the keyboard. Your voice develops as you work. It takes time and lots and lots of practice to find your own, unique rhythm. Try a variety of styles and genres. Your voice will follow you through these changes, and you’ll learn a lot more about what sets you apart as a writer.

Developing your own voice is one of the least conscious elements of writing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Remember: listen to beta readers, editors, and teachers as you go, because they can tell you if your unique voice is still connecting to the reader. Even if you find your perfect voice, it’s only perfect if readers can understand and relate.

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