Hitting upon that unique voice when you write, the kind that stands out for each author is hard. Take Stephen King – when I pick up one of his books, I right away recognize his voice. It comes through his word choices and sayings that I have become familiar with in his other books.
Yes, voice is at the heart of every writer, and for a while now I’ve been working on how to release mine. I wanted to share with you what I’ve learnt so far in my journey.
When I started writingt, my voice was influenced by all my favourite authors and bits of their voices showed up in my writing. When I read some of my earlier stories now, this is so obvious that I cringe. Since then, I’ve written many short stories and a complete novel where I don’t rely on their voice, and have started to see flickers of my voice. Exciting. But I’m still honing this skill, polishing it, and learning from everyone around me.
This is what I’ve learnt so far:
Keep writing, every day if possible (I struggle with this too): This works, so keep practicing and pushing yourself until it feels natural, not forced. It takes time, but it’s worth it. I’m pretty sure most authors didn’t hit upon their voice in the first go; they also had to work at it.
Inject aspects of yourself into writing: That’s right, don’t shy away from it. Each one of us has a unique personality, so why not harness it in your writing. Let these aspects come across into your story. One way to identify these aspects is to take a printed copy of your story, and start highlighting certain words / lines that scream YOU. Those elements are part of your unique voice coming out.
Never stop reading: This doesn’t include just today’s books, but newspapers, classic literary works, and any other quality literary writings. This leads to the next point.
Get yourself an opinion: This is my biggest hurdle, because I grew up in a country / family where you kept opinions to yourself and never voiced them. But I’m working on letting go of these inhibitions. Best way to develop opinions is to be up to date on what’s happening in the news, the world and the writing industry. This helps develop confidence and in turn an attitude that will come across in your writing.
I’d like to know, how do you achieve a strong, and unique voice for your stories? What works for you?