7 Ways Writers Can Find an Exclusive Voice

It’s one of the best compliments I receive from readers. “I loved your book. I could hear you encouraging me as I read. It felt like we were talking over lunch.”

Unique. Transparent. Courageous. Authentic. Fresh. Today’s most popular writing voices are often identified by these descriptors. But how do you tap into the exclusive inflections that showcase your authentic self on the page?Grandpa and Granddaughter

Recently, while watching my nine-month-old granddaughter amuse herself by practicing her newly discovered babble, I thought about a writer’s struggle to speak on paper. In the infancy of our career, we could learn a lot from babies about speaking in an identifiable way. And if we relax and learn to amuse ourselves in the process, we’ll likely find our voice faster.

Most of us need help understanding our voice. But if you follow the seven steps listed below, I can assure you, very soon, you’ll relax into the thrill of conversational-style writing.

  1. Karen Jordan author of Words That Change EverythingWrite to your best friend, parent, sibling, spouse, or child. Someone you wouldn’t hold back with. Last month, I rode to and from the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association Conference, (AWSA), and Christian Booksellers Association, (CBA/ICRS), expo with my author friend, Karen Jordan. One of the things I love about her new book, Words That Change Everything, is her transparent way of writing. Like me, she often envisions a specific person when writing her words.
  2. Imagine your ideal reader. Then, write to them, and only them. Writing expert Jeff Goins says, “My ideal reader is smart. He has a sense of humor, a short attention span, and is pretty savvy when it comes to technology and pop culture. He’s sarcastic and fun, but doesn’t like to waste time. And he loves pizza.”
  3. Ask yourself, What do I like to read? Spend some time looking closely at the books, articles, and blogs you are drawn to. What are their similarities and differences? What is the personality of the writer?
  4. Review your recent writing, and ask yourself, Is this how I talk?
  5. Interview some of your readers. Ask them, “What does my writing voice sound like to you?” List the answers you receive, and ask yourself, Are they hearing the real me through my words?
  6. Don’t start your project/page/chapter by thinking about writing for publication; at first, simply write it for yourself. Free-write without pressure or hindrance — you can always trash it later. But for now, allow your mind to run unfettered and your fingers to type unbound. The gems that shine through your free expression may surprise you, and will lend to freshness in your voice.
  7. Ask yourself, If I knew I had thirty days to live, is the message I’m sharing coming through in its purest state? Is this what I would want to say to the world through my last breaths, and how I would want to express it?

Getting Through What You Can't Get Over Book CoverRemoving our writing masks takes intentional effort. When I wrote Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, I left puddles of emotional blood on many pages. However, I knew readers needed me to do it — our creative endeavors depend on reaching into our souls to thrust our true selves onto the page. When we do, readers feel like they know us personally, and want to draw nearer. Loyal fans are engaged when they can recognize our projects, without seeing our names.

Can you hear my writing voice in this article? How have you learned to write from your authentic writing voice?

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Struggling with Your Book Manuscript? Just Write!

Photo/TaraRossHow’s that book you’re NOT writing coming along?

I must admit, writing a book is not at all what I expected, even though it’s been my dream for a long time.

I did refer to it as a goal at one point, but someone corrected me by informing me that “goals have deadlines.” So, I suppose it’s just been a distant dream for me—until now.

Now, I DO have a deadline. So, I guess my dream graduated to become a goal. Yay!

Hold on! Why am I so happy? Did I say deadline? Yikes!

In his blog post, “The Totally Boring Process of Writing a Book,” Jeff Goins wrote about his struggle with writing a book.

I think Goins wrote this article just for me.

Wait … did he say “boring”? Why, yes—I think he did! So, what do you think?

Observer. I know some students who NEVER finished writing their master’s theses or doctoral dissertations! They completed the course work for their degrees, compiled volumes of research, but they never turned in their final papers, failing to complete their degree requirements.

I’ve also known a few professors and ministers who used their entire sabbaticals to do research, but they never finished their books. Such wisdom—still packed away and waiting in an obscure files somewhere.

Recently, I listened to several historical fiction writers confess their ongoing struggle, of not beinging able to moving from the research phase of their writing to actually finishing their books.

One writer friend completed a book that she’s been working on for 25 years. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS! Oh, she’s written other books. But this prize was tucked away for safe-keeping until her other projects were finished.

Is this a common problem for writers? I think so.

But who am I to judge other writers? I’ve been collecting research on my book for a decade. That’s why I’ve been so stalled in this phase of the writing process, gathering 10 years worth of research from every nook and cranny of my home and computer files.

Question. So, how do you break away from your research and graduate to writing?

My writing friend, Kathy, shared some wise advice she gleaned from a writers conference: “Put your bottom in the chair, and stay there until you meet your goal for the day.”

So, I wish I had the answer. Perhaps it’s simply these two words—JUST WRITE!

How do you transition from research to writing?

Writing With a Day Job

Writing Career Plus a Day Job

Juggling a Day Job With a Writing Career?

Are you a writer, or an aspiring writer with a day job? Ever get tired trying to juggle at least two careers, (day job and writing), along with mommy, daddy, spouse, family, friend, and church duties?

If so, you are not alone. A conference speaker gave this statistic. “About one percent of writers succeed at getting published. Because most drop out of the race.” Here’s my post on that experience.

Embedded within that percentage is a smaller number of those who can actually afford to write full-time. Making the leap to a devoted writing career usually requires long-term planning, intentional strategy, and detailed tactics. Jeff Goins’ recent blog encapsulates a great way to approach the goal of becoming a full-time writer. The steps he outlines, I could have written myself. (More on that in a later post.)

But if you’re reading this now, odds are writing with a day job is your reality. Anything else may feel like something built on fluffy clouds.

So how do you bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, serve it to those you are responsible for, and after the dishes are done still find time to pursue that dream throbbing with every heart beat? Can it be done? I believe the answer is a resounding YES!

People often ask me how I accomplish everything at work and home, plus write blogs, devotionals, articles, and books. After I imagine my cluttered living room, (I’m not Wonder Woman, something has to suffer), three things come to mind. “Resolve, listen, act.”

As a writer with a day job:

Juggling a Writing Career and a Day Job

Resolve to Invest Time in Your Writing Business

A. Resolve to invest wisely.

  • Treat your day job with respect. Just because you have a higher calling, or a bigger dream, don’t discount the gift of your employment today. After all, it pays the bills, and you can glean great writing fodder from things that happen in your workplace.
  • Watch less television, and write more. 
  • Create your own Writer’s Cave.
  • Rise earlier, and allow fewer sleep-in days.
  • Write when you’re tired, energized, or just so-so.
  • Schedule writing, don’t wait until you feel like it.
  • Celebrate small victories. Fifteen minutes putting words on a screen are worthy of excitement.

B. Listen to voices of genuine authority.

  • For me, the voice of God rings truth above any other I might listen to. Early on, I asked the Best Selling Author of All Time to mentor me, and He hasn’t let me down yet.
  • Do not disregard those who have written with day jobs before you. Heed their valuable advice.
  • Seek the wisdom of professional agents, editors, and publishers. They are in their positions based on education, experience, and talent.

Writer With a Day Job Book CoverC. Act on what you are taught.

  • Be a doer — not a hearer, dreamer, thinker, talker only.
  • Keep something for notes with you always. Inspiration comes in strange times and places.
  • Make tiny goals like, “Write for five minutes before I leave for work.” You will encourage yourself with things to look forward to, and enjoy a sense of satisfaction when you complete them.
  • Keep your word. It’s better not to make a promise at work, or as a writer, than to make one and break it.

Have you read Aine Greaney’s fabulous book, Writer with a Day JobIt’s full of tips, exercises, and encouragements.