Writing is simply not the act of writing. It’s about communicating. And how do you communicate effectively? You have to talk to your audience. To do this, you have to find your voice. This is something easier said than done. So, where do you start?
Here are a few simple points to focus on to gradually speak up and make your voice cut through.
It is one of the commandments to writing. Read as much as you can. Read everything that you can get your hands on. Read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction. I have gone as far as to say in the past that if you don’t read you cannot call yourself a writer. To even begin in finding your own voice you have to soak up as many different voices as you can. You might think this is counter-productive, but whether we like it or not the things we read DO influence our writing. So, to ensure your voice is a powerful one, stick to the mantra: read, read, READ!
Yes, it might seem obvious. But I’m not just talking about writing your beloved body of work that you want to get published. I’m talking about writing everything that you can think of, mind to the page, whether it makes sense or not. Nothing is garbage when it comes to writing. Sure, you might not want to show anyone those scribbles of raw material, but they are crucial to sharpening your writing skill and loudening your voice.
Visualise your audience.
You need to know who you’re talking to. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s adamant that you know your audience. If it helps, create a character for your audience and appeal to their interests, and avoid their dislikes. This way, you can guarantee your writing won’t fall on deaf ears.
Write what you fear to write.
Only real writers know what I’m talking about. That uncertainty that grips you when you’re not sure whether what you’ve visualised in your head has been translated on the page. Dare to take these risks. Some might pay off, others will have to be scrapped and rewritten. But if you don’t at least try to write the story that you’ve always wanted to communicate why bother writing at all? If you don’t take risks, you will inevitably construct a bland story that will neglect the reader’s intrigue.
Get PROFESSIONAL feedback.
Your mum says she loves your work. Your friends are impressed by your storytelling. Guess what, their opinion doesn’t matter. At least, when it comes to subjective criticism. Whether they are trying to be nice or not, they are going to have some obvious bias in critiquing you. You need to seek out professional criticism, whether that is an editor or a mentorship program. Without this professional insight, you’ll find it extremely difficult to know whether your heading in the right direction. Because whether you like it or not, eventually you’ll have to pitch your novel to professionals who are just looking for any excuse to scrap your manuscript.
In short, finding your voice is a gradual, hour-intensive exercise. But once you have it, it’s almost impossible to let it go…