7 Simple Ways to Find Your Writing Voice

When reading your favourite books, one of the things that keeps you turning the pages is the author’s voice, right? So when writing your book, you’ll want to be sure you’re sharing your unique writing voice too. 

But how do you do it? How can you sound like…well…yourself? In this post, I’ll share 7 simple ways you can discover your writing voice, so you feel confident your readers will keep turning the pages of your book.

1. Personality exercise

A handy exercise to try before you start writing is to list some adjectives to describe your personality. Why? Because more often than not, your writing voice is extremely similar to your everyday voice – you know, the one you use to talk to your friends and your family. Not the one you use when you’re trying to impress someone or, as my mum tends to use, your ‘phone voice.’ 

Grab a piece of paper and write down as many adjectives as you can to describe your personality – if you’re feeling brave you can ask your partner or trusted friend to give their input too. And no, the word ‘naggy’ will not feature on my list, dear husband! Once you’ve got your list, pick your 5 favourite ones and consider whether these feature in any writing you usually do – e.g. social media captions, blog posts or email newsletters. 

If not, how could you start to show these parts of your personality in your writing? 

2. Read, read, read

The only way to experience the writing voice of others is to read – be it other books in your genre or simple articles or newsletters that interest you. Here are some questions to consider about your favourite pieces of writing or books you’ve read:

  • What do you particularly like about it?

  • What makes it interesting or appealing?

  • How would you describe this writer’s tone of voice?

  • How is your writing similar or different?

A couple of warnings here though. Avoid trying to emulate someone else’s writing voice. You might be able to sustain it for a while, but just like my mother’s phone voice, it’s not the real you and it becomes hard to maintain it over a long period of time. 

It will also make your writing even more stilted, as you’re not able to achieve that natural flow state when writing – you’ll be too busy wondering if it sounds like that person or not. People want to read what you have to say because it’s written by you. If they want to read the person you’re trying to emulate, they’ll read them. Not someone’s attempt to sound like them. 

Stay true to your voice and your style – it makes the writing process so much easier and so much more enjoyable.

3. Ask yourself why you’re writing

You’re probably familiar with Simon Sinek’s book/TED talk, Start With Why – and it’s a useful tool to use when trying to establish your writing voice too. If you can remind yourself of why you’re writing in the first place, it can give it a real touch of authenticity. You’re not coming from a place of ‘trying to sound like a writer’ – you’re coming from a place of trying to help someone, to motivate and inspire them with your words. 

Why not try writing a letter to your reader – what do you want them to feel like when they read your book – motivated, inspired, amused? If you’re an experienced coach or consultant, you’ve worked with many clients at this point. Use this to your advantage – how do you hope your book will help people like them? 

Use your daily experience to guide you too. Consider how you hope clients will feel at the end of a session with you. I’m sure you don’t spend hours worrying about your conversational style anymore, so it should be the same for your writing. Just write in a way that feels natural.

4. Practise regularly

As with anything in life, finding your writing voice can really only come from practice. And while I’m not advocating you spend 10,000 hours writing, I am suggesting that you dedicate some time to it on a regular basis. 

How you do this is up to you. It might be through journaling, social media captions, blogging or you could try a completely different type of writing – e.g. poetry or short stories. It’s just about letting your fingers do the work and not thinking too much about it. Even if these pieces never see the light of day, the time you spend on them will add up to your overall confidence in your writing voice.

Just as a marathon runner wouldn’t turn up to a race without any training, you wouldn’t turn up to write a book without any writing practice. It’s this practice that helps you discover your voice and feel confident to use it.

5. Use a dictation tool

If the thought of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is still leaving you stuck or confused with your writing voice, why not try using dictation as a way to see your voice on the page? 

There are several dictation tools out there – one easy one being on Microsoft Word. You can open a brand new blank document, press the microphone button and then start talking. Imagine you’re giving your chapter or your blog post as a talk – say it out loud and let the dictation tool capture your words. Again, avoid trying to sound a certain way, just talk as if you’re talking to a friend. 

Once you’re done, read it back and you’ll soon see features of your writing voice appear. Highlight the bits you really like, but also those that don’t sound like you at all. If you do this a few times, you’ll soon get a good grasp on the parts of your personality that are shining through and use these more often when it comes to manually writing your work. 

And don’t forget! Some authors dictate their work completely, so that’s always an option moving forward too!

6. Try free writing 

Freewriting is a great way to explore your writing voice – after all, you know it’s for your eyes only and it gives you that freedom to play and be curious about what you produce. 

One popular way to do this is using Morning Pages – a tool created by author Julia Cameron. It’s simply a stream of consciousness you write each morning. As the website says, 

‘There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.

Seems both Julia and I like a James Bond reference…

And while it might seem like an odd writing exercise to pursue, it’s actually a great way of relaxing your approach to the whole process of writing and finding your writing voice. You’re simply writing – with no agenda and no plan. It can really help to build your confidence and gives you a chance to indulge yourself in playful curiosity, making friends with your writing voice in the process. 

7. Get some feedback 

I’ve deliberately left this one until last because it takes a bit more courage to do – after all, letting people see your writing can feel a little intrusive if you’re just starting out or you’re not feeling confident.

But it has so many benefits when it comes to discovering your writing voice because you’re able to get some honest feedback as to whether your writing actually sounds like you. In order to do this, you’ll need to ask someone who knows you well. 

Start off with something small – maybe a social media caption or a short blog post? Ask them to read it and tell you if it sounds like you. If not, why not? Are there particular words you’ve used that you wouldn’t normally say in conversation? What would you say instead? What bits do sound like you? 

As with all feedback, go into it with an open mind and be prepared for any constructive criticism. If it’s someone who cares about you, they’re not going to be too harsh. If they’re willing, try rewriting it after you’ve completed some of the exercises in this post and see whether you’re hitting the mark a little more closely.

Summary

One final point worth remembering is that it’s perfectly okay to write how you speak – actually, I actively encourage you to do that. Firstly, it’ll make your writing sound so much more like the real you, you’ll gain a new level of confidence. And secondly, editing is your best friend – it’s where you can make any necessary changes. 

Writing in a conversational style, with a chatty approach, makes your work so much more enjoyable to read. If you’re trying to sound extremely academic the whole time, it will make your writing a bit of a snoozefest. 

So give some of these a go – and just remember, your writing voice is your personality on paper. Don’t try to squash it or hide it away – embrace it and let it shine through for your audience to see. It will keep them coming back for more.

If you’d like further support with your writing voice or some feedback on what you’ve produced so far, why not contact me about a Power Hour, where we can look at your work together.

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