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Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be True


 

VOICE

I’ve spent many years trying to find my own “Voice.” Don’t we all?

For me, voice is what I look for in other writers, as well.  The writers I gravitate towards write  Raw.  Real.  Kick Ass. No Bullshit. words.  You know who you are.  I love you.  I really,  really love you.

I asked one of my favorite bloggers to write about “VOICE.”  And who better than Jeri Walker?  Thank you so much, Darling.

On your mark…Get set…GO!

**********************************************************************

 

An authentic writing voice draws readers in and keeps them coming back for more.

 

Voice is akin to personality. It makes the writer’s presence on the page distinct from countless others. A strong voice does not draw attention to itself by shouting, but by being comfortable in its own skin.

 

Just to be clear, voice is so much more than a writer’s style—unique word choices, sentence structures, and punctuation habits.

 

Voice is an author unafraid of saying what must be said.

 

But how to best go about finding your writing voice? Read and write. A helluva lot. Period. Voice emerges over time and continually evolves.

 

So stop worrying if you sound like someone else. Do however worry about writing with conviction.

 

On the one hand, uncovering your writing voice is indeed about learning to be true to yourself so readers will connect with that honesty. But that’s only half of the voice equation.

 

Think of the famous line from Hamlet when Polonius advises his son Laertes, “To thine own self be true.” He’s telling his son to stay true to his own interests because that is what truly allows a person to be better-equipped to take care of others.

 

In other words, write for yourself and to figure out the message that matters most to you, and your principles will draw the right readers who will feel taking care of by your message. It’s all a bit circular…

 

Voice also comes into play when creating a fictional persona. The thought and speech patterns of any given character must ring true to that character’s background. Many authors write detailed character sketches even though the material will never appear in the novel.

 

Writing and the process of developing a strong voice is a recursive process. The beautifully addictive cycle never ends.

 

Voice does not exist in a vacuum. Writers assume different voices depending on the writing task. The intended subject and audience play a part in shaping the ultimate form a message takes. In the composition field, this is known as the rhetorical triangle.

While a strong voice may come more naturally and quickly to some, all writers can find their voice if they keep pressing forward—page, after page, after page.

 

Go forth and kick ass with your writing voice. Take no prisoners. Be authentically and gloriously you. Aim to let your words become somebody’s literary drug of choice.  ( O’  I love that sentence,  Jeri!! )

 

—-Have you found your writing voice? What has and hasn’t helped you on that journey?

 

Jeri Walker (@JeriWB) is also a freelance editor who offers incomparable quality at affordable rates. She believes in making every word count and dabbles in penning short stories and creative nonfiction. You can connect with her at JeriWB.com or explore her titles via Amazon.

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Blog: JeriWB Author & Editor http://jeriwb.com/

Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Jeri-Walker-Bickett/e/B006UHV4CA

 


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140 Comments

  • Reply
    Carrie Rubin
    April 22, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    It’s great when an author finds a unique voice, one that will bring readers back time and time again. I just discovered Elmore Leonard books. Not sure what took me so long. Talk about a great voice.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted..Careful, Your Frasier Crane Is Showing: Using Big Words In Writing When Smaller Ones Will DoMy Profile

  • Reply
    injaynesworld
    April 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I agree. Authenticity of voice is everything.
    injaynesworld recently posted..injaynesworld it’s “The Hunt…”My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 22, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Jayne, I just saw the title of your book: Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry. With a title like that I can only imagine your writing voice is as authentic as they come. Why am I not surprised that I am going to meet some fabulous people here on Kim’s blog?

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Yes, Jayne,
      without it, you are, well, as Plath says, “A paper doll cutout.”

      xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jeri
    April 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Kim, thank you so much for having me guest post today on your blog. I can think of no better online space to write about voice as your writing voice is so strong, unique, and ultimately mesmerizing.
    Jeri recently posted..#WritingPrompt: 15-Sentence Portrait PoemMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      ~~~Jeri,
      It’s my great pleasure learning from you!
      Isn’t it amazing how early writers help us find our voice?
      For me, that writer was Sylvia Plath. When I read ARIEL as a young girl,
      I was like, “That’s ME! I get it. I’m not alone.”
      Thank you, Jeri, for your expertise! xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

      • Reply
        Jeri
        April 22, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        I think the author who gave me the most voice lessons must have been Alice Walker in The Color Purple.

  • Reply
    Aquileana
    April 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    “Just to be clear, voice is so much more than a writer’s style—unique word choices, sentence structures, and punctuation habits. Voice is an author unafraid of saying what must be said”~ (JW dixit).
    Great post and I will say that Jeri’s words here reminded me of Hemingway’s thoughts on writing somehow…
    Also I am with her about the importance of writing with conviction and making sure to raise up an authentic voice, if possible… Such a clever reading. Thank you!… Best wishes. Aquileana 😀

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      —–Aquileana,
      First, what a gorgeous name!
      I agree, Authentic Voice is VITAL and Real and Addictive.
      I love the quote by Dorothy Parker when she talks about throwing a rotten novel with
      great force against the room!
      This is how I feel about unauthentic voice!
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 22, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Aqui, so good of you to pay me a visit here on Kim’s blog. Interesting too how conviction can do so much to win a reader over no matter the subject matter. I used to have a professor who said all the time how there are no boring topics, just boring writers. The fun of writing is making the words distinctly your own (even if it might be a book on the history of salt… which reminds me I still need to read the book Salt: A World History).

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper
    April 22, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    As you know I struggle with this; knowing if my voice is heard and comes through. Why? Because of my dyslexia. I reverse stuff and sometimes my reader finds what I say confusing. In the end, I try hard to be and stay “true to thine self”. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted..3 Keys To Success: #StoryMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Susan,
      stay true…
      Even w/ dyslexia, your real voice will push thru!!
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 22, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      Susan, your awareness of that happening makes such reversals less likely to happen. As I’ve edited your blog posts over time to get them ready for publication, I’ve noticed writing comes more smoothly to you. There are still the structural issues I iron out, but even then, your dyslexia is part of what adds to your own unique writing voice.

  • Reply
    Anna @ shenANNAgans
    April 22, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Brilliant! I love finding people who have found their rhythm with writing, their true voice. It really cuts through too. There are few things better than reading straight from someones the soul, connecting via their words. 🙂
    I have found my writing voice, it’s light and fluffy most of the time, but I think interesting, and a fun way for people to learn new things. It took nearly 5 years to find my voice, I spent a lot of time listening to what others thought I should be saying, even how I should be saying it. When I started listening to me, doors opened, real people started appearing, opportunities were given to me, life popped!

    Anyways, fab to meet you Jeri, and thanks Kim for being AWESOME. Happy week ahead to you. xox
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      ***When I started listening to me, doors opened****

      YES. YESSSSSSSSSSSS.

      Anna, I have realized if we write for others, we lose ourselves, sell our souls.

      I will never sell my soul!!

      Oh, I love your fluffy voice!! xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 22, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      Anna, thanks for sharing that it took you 5 years to find your voice. I found my voice years and years ago and wrote nonstop, but then teaching happened and divorce happened and life… happened. I’m down but I’m not out, and I’m sure the voice I’m coming back to is going to be stronger than ever and different too.

  • Reply
    lisa thomson-the great escape
    April 22, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I love your advice, Jeri! Sometimes I feel I have to hide my true voice because the wrong people are reading my blog LOL. It takes time to find it, too. Genuine honesty is the building block and losing the fear of judgment. Thanks for hosting Jeri, Kim. What a wonderful topic!
    lisa thomson-the great escape recently posted..Burn, Baby Burn-Divorce BonfireMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Lisa,
      I have a feeling that the “RIGHT” people are reading your blog, darling. xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Lisa, I think a lot about voice when it comes to my blog. On the one hand, I use the voice of Ms. Editor when I’m trying to be all helpful with how-to posts, and on the other, I sometimes include more casual “life” pieces as a way to showcase my writing ability. That being said, I’ve thought a lot about the need to probably start a separate author blog at some point when I’m more certain what type of author I want to be when I grow up 😉

  • Reply
    Meditating mummy
    April 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you Jerri for such great insight, when I review, I am often drawn to an author’s voice, the one that entices, that is subtle and relaxes me into the book. I think when you find an authentic voice, it is what makes a particular story special. I love how you’ve articulated it.

    Kim, such a great post and topic, thank you so much.
    xxx
    Meditating mummy recently posted..I quote Saturdays – ChildrenMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Mummy,
      As always, I love when you visit 🙂 xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      I definitely agree. Voice is what makes a piece truly stand out. When I was reading slush pile stories for a literary journal it soon became clear how a story can be technically proficient, but without a true voice the writer felt compelled to get down on the page at all costs, even the best pieces fell flat and didn’t leave a lasting impression.

  • Reply
    Balroop Singh
    April 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Jeri,
    Thanks for an in-depth analysis of ‘writing voice.’ Real voice is connected with the soul of the writer, it emerges from the heart, sometimes like scalding steam…breaking through the mist, without any apprehensions to reach the readers. Voice is like the signature…difficult to forge, inimitable albeit it takes some time to develop such a voice, which matures like good wine.
    Balroop Singh recently posted..How Acceptance Can Calm Our EmotionsMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Matures like good wine.
      I like that, Balroop. xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Balroop, you’ve described voice like a true poet. It really does take time to develop a voice. I’ve found too that since I found my way back to creative writing after years of less than thrilling academic writing, my voice has changed from the voice I carried to confidently and with such conviction years ago. I’m in the process of figuring out what my new writing voice wants to sound like.

  • Reply
    Chris Carter
    April 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Wow… such an educational and inspirational piece Jeri. Thank you for sharing your expertise. I love this. It speaks to me so much… I could re-read it over and over again for both the appreciation of the writer’s development/process and in honoring the gift of so many voices I have come to love.

    I can also see myself growing in time, through my own words, and I am starting to hear a clear voice while finding that comfort you speak of, in my own ‘skin’. You are so right… the more I write and read, the more I evolve.

    (Thanks Kim for having such an amazing writer/editor here to share her gifts with us!)
    Chris Carter recently posted..Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful YouMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      —-Chris,
      God is utilizing your gift of words for his greater purpose.
      I see this clearly, and I love that you “DO NO”T apologize for your stance or beliefs. Xxx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Chris, it really is so true about how reading and writing more are the best ways to hone our writing voices. When I find a new writer I get enthralled with, I tend to emulate them for awhile, usually in my journal so nobody else can see. It’s a bit like being a kid and playing dress-up. In order to forge our writing identity, it’s often necessary to try on various personas before we find one that feels like our own skin.

  • Reply
    Laura Zera
    April 22, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Having only written non-fiction up until now, this post really got me thinking about how my voice will carry over into the realm of fiction (which I do plan to dive into soon!). As for finding my voice in my memoir, I do remember having concerns about not being “literary enough,” and then saying, “ack, screw it,” when I realized I had to be true to me. If voice isn’t authentic, it’s the reading equivalent of having fingers poked in your eyes.
    Laura Zera recently posted..Mental Health: Depression Linked to Inflammation, Gut BacteriaMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 22, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      **“ack, screw it,” when I realized I had to be true to me**

      I like your perspective, Laura!!!
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Laura, I wonder the same thing too about voice in nonfiction and how it carries over into fiction. My fiction tends to be so close to real life that the voice stays steady. My voice problem is tending to sound like an English teacher far too often 😉 It’s otherwise known as “essay voice” I guess. At times I know my voice isn’t coming across the way I intend it to, and those times are when I feel like I’m poking my own eyes out as I read my writing!

  • Reply
    Valentine Logar
    April 23, 2015 at 3:31 am

    As I struggle with time, energy and inspiration this came at just the right time. I needed the reminder. I needed also to remember to stop over thinking. Perfect advice.
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 4:41 am

      Val,
      when I just “Let Go,” and stopped worrying about what people thought,
      this is when I found my true voice.

      Luv u. xxx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Valentine, I am so guilty as charged on over-thinking. I think my analytical editor brain is much better at this writing thing at times compared to my creative writings self because I tend to self-edit so much as I write and that can be a real voice killer.

  • Reply
    Jodi
    April 23, 2015 at 4:29 am

    I’m still finding my voice. I think it will take me a while. I don’t get to raw yet, I know I don’t. But I am getting there. And I’ll keep trying!
    Jodi recently posted..Declutter Your House, Declutter Your MindMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 4:44 am

      Jodi,
      Nobody can say, “I’m There!
      There is always something “MORE” to learn, to strive for, to accomplish.
      Always, darling.
      I bet even Shakespeare looked back and thought, “Wow, that is pure Shit!:

      xxx Luv U.
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Jodi, writing really is about the journey. We all find our stride at different points and that’s okay.

  • Reply
    Gerald Freeman
    April 23, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Wonderful article- it is only by being yourself that people will see and believe who you truly are. I also believe it is only by being yourself that you will end up doing what you really want to do and playing the part you were put on this planet for. I would say you have definitely found your voice, Jeri.

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Excellent perspective, Gerald.
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Gerry, at times I think my writing voice is good, but then I pick it apart. I guess it helps to be able to take the failures in stride… those pieces that fight a person tooth and nail. Sometimes I don’t know when to give up on a piece of writing, and that’s a voice killer too. I envy how readily you capture your inner thoughts and get them down on the page in your memoirs. The world needs more writers who are really as honest as you and not just trying to put on a facade of honesty. You are the real deal 🙂

  • Reply
    Deborah Batterman
    April 23, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I’ve also thought of voice as elusive — in the sense it’s not something you can work at. I think it emerges, from the rhythm of the prose, the depth of the words, the content/context,sensibility. Frankly it’s what draws me most to a writer.
    Deborah Batterman recently posted..A Super Bad Hair DayMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Deborah,
      Me, too.
      The VOICE I am drawn to is the VOICE I covet to become!! x
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Deborah, voice is indeed elusive. I’ve found that its emergence can be helped by doing tons of exercises to help its own its way. We all write under different subjective factors that shape our lives and hence our writing voices. That being said, I’ve been known to play the “I’m from Idaho card” on occasion in my writing as a way to draw on that aspect of my voice.

  • Reply
    Debbie
    April 23, 2015 at 8:06 am

    You know, one good thing about being trained as a journalist is not really caring what others think (it’s also one of the things that provides a challenge when switching to fiction, ha!) I’ve struggled with Voice — wondering how to develop it, how to put it out there. Perhaps it’s more a lesson to be true to ourselves and know the right readers will come — and they will appreciate our words. Well done, Ladies — and thank you!!
    Debbie recently posted..Missing the ObviousMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Debbie,
      If I worrying what others thought of me, I’d NEVER write a single word, darling.
      I didn’t know you were a journalist!! xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Debbie, I go back and forth between caring what others will think of me and my writing. Time and again, the real voice that is me emerges when I can push all the “what will they think” idiocy from my head. One of the main reasons why I left the classroom is I knew it wouldn’t go over well to be an English teacher who writes about what some would consider unsavory topics. People tend to have a hard time reconciling that teachers are real people too and not the characters they write about!

  • Reply
    Brenda Le
    April 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Hi Jeri! Great to see you here at Kim’s!

    I struggle at times using my own voice for fear if my employers read what I wrote, however, I finding the courage more and more of being true to ME and the hell with the rest of them. Thank you for an inspiring post!

    Great guest Kim!
    Brenda Le recently posted..Colton Drake in The Admiral’s Arms is Out! #paranormal #romanceMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Brenda Lee.
      I LOVE what Annie Lamott says, “I write as if everybody I know is already dead.” xx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      Brenda, I’m glad you find my post inspiring. I’m finding all of these comments inspiring as well. I want to unleash and just write something, anything so much right now.

  • Reply
    ladyfi
    April 23, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Your voice is one of strength, endurance and beauty!
    ladyfi recently posted..Floating in cloudsMy Profile

  • Reply
    A.K. Andrew
    April 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Fantastic post Jeri. Great writing, and dare I say you truly found your voice in this one! Writing(& reading) constantly is the only way to find it. It’s not going to come and find you if you don’t. Persist then persist some more.
    A.K. Andrew recently posted..How to Express the Golden Gate Homesick BluesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 25, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      A. K., thanks for saying my voice is strong in this one. It helps when the writer is passionate about the topic and also excited to share their work on a great blog’s like Kim’s.

  • Reply
    Charlene Ross
    April 23, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Aim to let your words become somebody’s literary drug of choice….

    Oh I love that sentence too! Thank you so much for sharing Jeri with us and Jeri, thank yo so much for sharing your wonderful voice! (Just followed you on Twitter!)
    Charlene Ross recently posted..So I Kind of Co-Wrote This Book…My Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Charlene,
      I know.
      Isn’t Jeri Fabulous?!
      xx Kiss
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 25, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Charlene, thanks for the follow. One of my current literary drugs of choice would be Sherman Alexie. I’m hoping to finish The Long Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven this weekend. His voice is so unique.

  • Reply
    Rita @ The Crafty Expat
    April 23, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    This is probably one of the best post I have read on the writing voice. Sharing it now on my FB page. Thanks to both of you.
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  • Reply
    hilary
    April 24, 2015 at 4:16 am

    I love this post… i hope I found mine 🙂
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  • Reply
    Jacqueline Gum
    April 24, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Excellent article Jeri! My journey began in 2005 when I submitted my first piece to a literary agent who scrawled across the page, “NO VOICE”. I had to look it up. I started remembering the books I loved most and what I loved about them… I read some more, I studied, I practiced. I let go and started writing with a no bullshit attitude. Fast forward to an agent I queried a month ago, who responded, “You’re an extremely talented writer with an excellent voice.” I still have a ways to go, but I’m gratified to know that somebody heard my voice…at last!
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted..Feigned Ignorance… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Jacquie, you definitely have a no bullshit attitude down and it makes your writing stand out so much because of it. I loved your book and can’t wait to read more based on the query letter I assisted you with a while back.

  • Reply
    Marcia @ Menopausal Mother
    April 24, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    My voice is usually one of humor, but the few times I get serious on my blog seem to be the times that I get the most traffic and the most comments. This goes to show that exposing the “real” voice—the one deep inside that isn’t so easy to reveal—is what people want or need to hear.
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    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 25, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Marcia, you make a great point. Voice comes from within, but it also comes from the audience as well. A reader’s response can often lead us to discover new things about the many writing voices within ourselves.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    April 25, 2015 at 7:11 am

    What an interesting question Kim! I don’t know if I have yet, I hope so but I also hope to grow and develop it. I don’t think I ever want to stop learning 🙂 xxx
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    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Lorraine, the desire to never stop learning will take you far. We all hit bumps in the writing road, but its the ability to stick with it and also the ability to be honest enough to know when we’re not quite there yet.

  • Reply
    Mandy
    April 26, 2015 at 1:56 am

    My voice seems to come and go, almost like laryngitides of the page if you will but I will always be true to myself!
    Have a beautiful and happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo
    Mandy recently posted..On a Hiding to NothingMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 27, 2015 at 4:45 am

      “TRUE TO YOURSELF.”

      YESSSSSSSS! xxxx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 27, 2015 at 10:35 pm

      Mandy, our writing voices do sometimes fade in and out like our real voices. So many factors can impact how readily voice transfers to the page.

  • Reply
    Lisa Gordon
    April 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you, Jeri, and Kim!
    This is wonderful, and I so enjoyed reading it.
    Lisa Gordon recently posted..The Welcoming CommitteeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Liz
    April 26, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    What terrific advice, Jeri. I need to remember as I’m always striving to be a better writer. I blog because I love to cook, not because I love to write. But I want my readers to feel like they know me, so will take your words to heart.

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 27, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Liz, but I’m sure your passion for cooking helps add to your voice. It matters so much when we are passionate about something. It’s almost impossible for it not to translate to the page.

  • Reply
    countingducks
    April 27, 2015 at 2:56 am

    I do think, in the final analysis, to achieve lasting quality, you have to write for yourself, and from what you feel, rather than merely seeking an audience. Many successful authors achieve notice, even after a time, because of who they are, what they say and how they say it, and devil take the marketing. Many of the writers I love spent a life saving up for the egg they needed to make that egg sandwich: luxury was far from their lives and minds
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    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 27, 2015 at 4:47 am

      ****you have to write for yourself,*****

      Ahhhhhhhhhh, and that’s the secret, darling. xxx
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 27, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Beyond a doubt, my best writing is when I can filter out all the other voices in my head because when you try to write for an audience voice gets mangled.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    April 27, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Thanks so much Kim for having Jeri here. Jeri, it’s a pleasure to meet you and thank you for the advice. My family has told me that I have a way with words but sometimes I hesitate to use my authentic voice because I fear it might not be accepted.
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    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 27, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      Sandra, that fear of acceptance plagues so many writers. I feel in love with writing creative nonfiction when I realized how comfortable inhabiting that world made me feel in my writer’s skin. Sometimes you just gotta put it all out there so to speak. Granted, the milieu impacts the voice. As much as I want to let my freak flag fly on my editing site, more often than not, I’m all business over there 😉

  • Reply
    Monica
    April 27, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Jeri, you wrap it up rather nicely. I never knew I had found my voice until a literary agent told me she liked it. And I said, wait. I have a voice? Can you elaborate? But she hung up the phone. Anyway, it took years for me to hone this voice. And I’m the first to say, it doesn’t feel like a “voice.” It’s just me. Now, if I could ever actually turn it into a book. Sigh. Problem is, I don’t have the patience for writing a whole book, though I greatly admire those who do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. By the way, don’t you just love Kim? A great voice, if you ask me.
    Monica recently posted..More Letters, Part 2My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Monica, I think we may have that in common. I often wonder if I’m cut out for writing a book-length project, but feel I can capture my voice in shorter pieces of fiction and nonfiction.

  • Reply
    Beth Niebuhr
    April 27, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Friends who have read my book say that it sounds just like me and so I guess I have found my voice. I’ve always loved writing and I think that is the way to get over trying to impress and just write as “my own self” as children like to say.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted..MindsetMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Beth, voice does indeed tend to break down when we start to write to impress. Such tactics backfire and the opposite happens as our voices becomes too conscious of itself and can’t “just be.” It’s great your friends tell you your books sounds just like you 🙂

  • Reply
    Shay from Trashy Blog
    April 27, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    I agree with all of this! I used to struggle with finding my voice until it hit me like a ton of bricks–when I write honestly, that stuff is GOOD. I taught 6th grade English for a lot of years, and I always told my students that you could tell which ones read a lot because they wrote really well. This doesn’t specifically have to do with voice, but I also told them you could tell readers from non-readers because when they wrote dialogue, they got all of the punctuation completely correct. I feel like I’m rambling now; I’m tired but also very excited about this post. I am a reading and writing nerd and could talk about this stuff all night. Do you have any wine?
    Shay from Trashy Blog recently posted..Nerf: A Study in PhotosMy Profile

    • Reply
      My Inner Chick
      April 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      Yeah,
      I have wine. Do you like red?
      Come over!! x
      My Inner Chick recently posted..Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Shay, why yes there is always plenty of red wine at my house as well 😉 In my years of teaching high school English it was always a dead give away which students read a lot due to how it helped them be better writers. Reading and writing a lot is the most surefire way to hone one’s writing voice.

  • Reply
    Hotly Spiced
    April 27, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I think finding your own voice definitely takes time. And a lot of writing. And reading too. I find the more I write, the more comfortable I am at trusting my own voice xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted..ANZAC Day March, 2015My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      Writing a lot does help us grow more comfortable in that writing-voice skin. I came back to writing creatively after almost a decade of focusing on academic writing. It’s been a tough road back to that type of creative voice writing skin at times.

  • Reply
    sherill
    April 27, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Hi, great advice. Being authentic and sincere is just what one needs to find one’s voice. Thanks for sharing. Great Read!
    sherill recently posted..Speaking at Hay House I Can Do It Denver Conference – A Dream Come TrueMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Sherill, sometimes a writer can be torn between which “authentic” voice to choice depending on the intended audience and type of writing. Hands down, that’s where I trip myself.

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    April 28, 2015 at 5:08 am

    I think voice is one of the toughest things in writing to develop, because there aren’t a lot of techniques to help you with it. It has to come from within and from being real and true to yourself. I agree lots of reading and lots of writing is the best way to develop it. I’m not sure I’ve found my voice yet, but I’m getting closer. Developing a character’s voice is a whole other topic. Being able to get inside that fictional person’s head enough to speak with his or her voice is both scary and fun.
    Donna Janke recently posted..Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum: Fusion ExperienceMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Donna, I remember what’s it’s like to get inside a character’s head, but it’s been soooooo long since I’ve been able to do so. The more I write, the more I realize I gravitate toward nonfiction.

  • Reply
    Marquita Herald
    April 28, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Well said Jeri! The challenge of finding one’s voice isn’t limited to writers, this is also a huge issue for anyone building an online presence. I’d love to have a dollar for every article I’ve come across about ‘finding your authentic voice’ but most people to understand what that really means. Thanks for the clarification and inspiration.
    Marquita Herald recently posted..What Does Self-Acceptance Mean to You?My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      Marquita, you raise a great point of how voice applies to the online spaces we also occupy. The best blogs that I keep coming back to are so distinct in tone.

  • Reply
    Tim
    April 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    If I look at how my own voice has evolved over time I am very pleased. Some of the characteristics remain the same but its more like an adult looking at photo of when he was a child and noticing continued characteristics…makes you realize that a uniqueness has remained. I do think one factor in finding your voice is not to look for it, it will find you.
    Tim recently posted..Kalahari’s New DayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      Tim, thanks for sharing such a lovely comment on voice. Yours is definitely distinct in your travel writing. Searching for voice is often futile. It does find us if we just keep going what we’re doing and figuring out what exactly is we want to say.

  • Reply
    Pamela Chollet
    April 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I can’t believe the similarity between finding your voice for writing and finding a voice in voiceover. I think, the process is comparable, although I may be missing something. You might think that reading a piece of copy is pretty generic, but it’s not. In voiceover, like writing, it’s about honesty and truth. There are two levels, the truth about the product,, (what you’re talking about) and deciding what my truth is for that product. If I’m reading about a product I don’t particularly like , but I’m saying I do like it, my voice will sound disconnected or dishonest. I have to find a truth for that product that’s true for the product as well as for me. What do you think?
    Pamela Chollet recently posted..Happiness Doesn’t Have To Be Hard. Read These 5 TipsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 28, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Pamela, your comment raises some interesting rhetorical aspects. Our voice will be impacted by how we feel about what we create regardless of the medium. I was working on a collection of national park essays that centered around my relationship with my husband, but now that I don’t “like” him anymore and we are divorced, I have to find a new truth to write about in conjunction with my love of national parks. I can no longer filter my voice on the beauty of parks through the voice of love I used to fill for him. I have to find a different truth that will allow me to properly express my life of parks.

  • Reply
    nan @ lbddiaries
    April 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    This was so good! I am bookmarking it to come back to and study. I found my voice; what I battle with is wondering if it is worth listening to! Sometimes I feel so repetitive, because talking about the same thing over and over (relationships, true love, romance) tends to make me think, “Do I really have anything to say? Does anyone really want to read about my love affair with Alpha Hubby one. more. time!?” Yet I find I can’t stop. Ah well, perhaps everyone faces that problem! GREAT post.
    nan @ lbddiaries recently posted..Love Says They WillMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jeri
    April 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Nan, so long as you can’t stop writing about those things and have a passion, I think that will always come across to old and new readers alike.

  • Reply
    Totally Caroline
    April 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    For me, having a strong voice is about speaking one’s truth and being passionate about your story. I think you do an excellent job of that Chicky. Your voice was meant to be heard 🙂
    Totally Caroline recently posted..Mmmm… Mr DarcyMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      Caroline, I agree. Kim has done an excellent job of finding her writing voice.

  • Reply
    Bell of Peace
    April 28, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    This article kindles my inner darkness. Thanks a lot. http://www.bellofpeace.org

  • Reply
    Lenie
    April 29, 2015 at 4:06 am

    My son, who is in marketing, told me when I started by blog that I needed to find my voice. I tried really hard at first to find my ‘voice’ and then I thought the heck with it, I’m just going to write in a way that feels comfortable to me. It must have worked because now he no longer tells me to find my voice but that he enjoys reading my posts.

    • Reply
      Jeri
      April 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Lenie, I think you’ve grown into your voice as you’ve continued your blog. Sometimes all it really does take is time and enough experimenting with post types and topics until our voice finds its niche.

  • Reply
    Patricia Weber
    April 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Fabulous post, Jeri. Wisdom and inspirations in one package. This you said: “Voice does not exist in a vacuum. Writers assume different voices depending on the writing task.” I LOVE that!

    Indeed, Kim, you’ve selected JUST the person to write this post.
    Patricia Weber recently posted..What Introvert Assets Are Like Your Femur Bones?My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      Patricia, give your work on introvert leadership I can see why my line about audience analysis struck a chord 🙂

  • Reply
    Michele Harvey
    April 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    “Voice is an author unafraid of saying what must be said.” So true, as a poet, you must be naked on the page! I will never forget the first time my workshop facilitator stated that I had found my voice, while workshopping a poem I had written.

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Michele, those are the best workshop moments, aren’t they? Even though we earn our confidence along the way was we practice our craft, the affirmation from others still counts for so much.

  • Reply
    Jeannette Paladino
    April 29, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    The key to expressing your own voice is “to thine own self be true,” as you stated. I do think you need to write from the heart. My best writing is when I’m truly invested in the subject.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Don’t Let Your Subscribers Change Their Email AddressesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Jeannette, writing from the heart jumps off the page. I just was talking to a fellow writer at lunch today and both of us noted how each self-edits too much as we write. That can really kills voice.

  • Reply
    Meredith @ The Palette Muse
    April 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    As a new-ish writer, I’m definitely still trying to find my voice. I love this piece of advice: “Do however worry about writing with conviction.” That’s gold. This is a great article, and one I will remember often as I struggle with how I write.
    Meredith @ The Palette Muse recently posted..Canyon PaletteMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Meredith, your voice is emerging as your blog shows that progression. I really like when you throw in a great humorous line or describe something in an unexpected way, such as the post on the blanket fort your daughter built.

  • Reply
    Catarina
    April 30, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Great article with a voice, Jeri.

    Am currently reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment again. First time I read it in English and now in Swedish. Dostoyevsky really has a writing voice extraordinaire. Definitely one of the most amazing ever. Pity the Nobel prize didn’t exist in his time because he definitely deserves one.
    Catarina recently posted..Can you control your brand online?My Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Catarina, I’ve read works by Tolstoy but haven’t made it to Dostoyevsky yet. When I do get to Crime and Punishment I will keep your comment about voice in mind.

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    April 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I never really worried about finding my writing voice. I feel like it finds me. It’s kind of the literary equivalent of a personality. You have to just let it happen. Good post Jeri.
    Ken Dowell recently posted..A Tale of Two CitiesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 2, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      Ken, you make an excellent point regarding voice. Sometimes we search so much for it that we forget that like all the things in life we need to experience, they often even up finding us when we least expect it. Voice just can’t be force.

  • Reply
    Phoenicia
    April 30, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Hi,

    I am still working on finding my voice. I have a love for putting my thoughts on paper but need to do it more often. I enjoy and appreciate reading the work of others, especially those who are more established than me.

    Can I add that it may be useful to place your latest posts at the top, preventing users from having to scroll through your comments.
    Phoenicia recently posted..Embracing everyday lifeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Erica
    May 1, 2015 at 8:52 am

    What great advice on finding your voice. It is so tempting to try to sound like somebody else, especially if they are someone that you admire. I feel like I’m pretty aware of my own voice. Having said that, if I am reading a really good book or just immersing myself in someone else’s writing, I can find another writers voice creeping into my head.

    Personally, I think practice makes perfect. And of course, we are always growing so there will always be room for improvement.
    Erica recently posted..The Secret to Successfully Slimming with CarbohydratesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Erica, I’ve even heard a good number of established authors note how they won’t read well-known authors in the genre they write in while working on a book so as to avoid voice rubbing off. Instead, they read a genre far from their own.

  • Reply
    William Rusho
    May 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    As a new writer, I always enjoy posts like these. They teach me so much and this one in particular. Finding your voice in writing is a difficult task, I think once you accomplish this, the writing becomes easier. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    William Rusho recently posted..The Legend of William Tell; A Swiss PatriotMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      William, and thanks so much for stopping by Kim’s blog. She’s a master of voice 🙂

  • Reply
    Jason B
    May 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    When I first started my blog I really had no idea what my voice was. After 2 years I think I’ve finally found it.
    Jason B recently posted..Tips For Traveling On A Tight BudgetMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Jason, I’d agree. I think many of go through the same thing with our blogs. It can take months (even years) to find our stride and figure out what to say and how to say it.

  • Reply
    andleeb
    May 2, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Hello Jeri
    Thank you Kim for calling Jeri, so we came to know you.

    What a beautiful write up.
    Finding our voice is most important in life. I always wish to have a voice that leave impression on hearts of others.
    It is hard in this world of globalization to have a bewitching effect but if you have voice, you can find anyone who agree with you anywhere in the world beyond the limits and boundaries. In this process to be what I am is very important. It is best to be true and sincere to us and others as well.
    I think, if we are sincere in what we are saying, one day for sure our voice will be heard. But at times, even struggling through all life our voice is lost in noise from everywhere. I do not get why is that so? What are the factors involved, if you can shed some more light for me Jeri???
    andleeb recently posted..Dammam : #Saudi ArabiaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Jeri
      May 4, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Andleeb, that’s a hard question to answer but thank you for asking. I think part of the reason why some sincere voices are not heard in the long long is because of a lack of persistence. With persistence comes even more confidence, but it’s hard to keep that up at times. I like your observation about it being hard to have a bewitching voice in this era of globalization. Sometimes it feels like we’re all trying to no avail… and of course luck does play its part as well.

  • Reply
    #AmWriting: The Five Ws and One H of the Writing Process - JeriWB
    May 4, 2015 at 3:01 am

    […] Please join me over at My Inner Chick for a guest post titled Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be True. […]

  • Reply
    #AmWriting: Sacred Writing Challenge by Sofia Wren - JeriWB Word Bank
    May 23, 2016 at 3:02 am

    […] Guest Post: Please join me over on My Inner Chick for a guest post titled Writing Voice: To Thine Own Self Be True. […]

  • Reply
    Hilary
    July 6, 2016 at 3:36 am

    Kim – have you read Rachel Thompson’s books? I think you may really love the voice she uses in her broken books…

  • Reply
    BroadBlogs
    January 2, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    Worse than not having found my voice I used to always get writers block. Posting a blog three times a week cured me of that.

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