You may need to spend lots of time discovering your voice. Or you may feel confident in how you sound as a writer and can easily describe your style. Either way, devoting time to improving your craft is always a good idea.
When I’ve neglected my own writing and need help getting in the groove, these are some of the things that help me make sure I continue developing my voice.
- Blog. While many, many writers have debated the merits of blogging, a personal blog gives you an opportunity to practice your writing on a regular basis. And practicing is the best way to improve your writing, which will help you develop (or even discover) your voice. Of course, whether or not you blog, you should write – and write and write.
- Let your voice dress up (or down). Susan Shapiro mentions her women’s magazine voice in her book Only Good As Your Word: Writing Lessons From My Favorite Literary Gurus. Her women’s magazine voice has the same straightforwardness as her memoir, but there’s still a distinct difference from what you “hear” in the book. But both voice sound like the same person and are distinctively Susan. How do you sound when you’re hanging out with your best friends on a relaxed Saturday night? Probably quite different than when you’re dressed to impress your boss (or your boss’s boss) at work! Practice writing in these variations of your voice.
- Take a class. The homework – and deadlines – required for a class is a great way to develop your voice. Your instructor and your classmates can give you amazing feedback that will help you refine and sharpen your craft. When you have a diverse group of people sharing their impressions, it gives you amazing options. Don’t like what you see in this mirror? You can change it – and your classmate and instructor are there to cheer you on. It’s also a perfect opportunity to build long-term relationships with people who are interested in helping you grow as a writer.
- Find a writing group. If you can get your prose into the hands of people who aren’t shy about sharing your opinions, you have struck gold. Multiple sources of feedback provide a good sense of how others “hear” you. It can also help you identify your weak points. And ask lots of questions. If someone in your group claims, “This sounds like you!” ask them to tell you why – in detail.
An engaging, distinct voice is one of the best assets any writer can have. It’s what will get you noticed – and keep your readers hooked.
What’s worked for you in developing and strengthening your voice as writer? Please share in the comments below. The floor is yours!