by Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Developing a voice in writing is something that requires plenty of practice. Having a voice in writing that's also both clear and consistent is very important, so it's important to watch how your writing sounds. It's OK if your voice in writing sounds different than your regular speaking voice. As long as you are speaking to people effectively through your words, then you are developing a good voice in writing.
My own writing voice is substantially different from my speaking voice. This is true for many people. Of course, if you use voice recognition software, it would be very much the same. In my experience, I would rather type than vocalize my writing, because I can work a keyboard far more quickly than I can talk. But vocalizing your writing can be a useful tool in developing your voice in writing. It's not the only way, though.
In my case, my brain often moves far more quickly than my mouth. Some people that know me may be surprised, with how often that I talk, that I often can’t keep up with what I’m thinking. Because of that, sometimes ideas come out very awkwardly through my speech. This is why I prefer so much to write. I know this is true for a lot of people. When I try to dictate writing, it's a lot more scattered than when I purely type. Using my voice for writing is a skill I hope to improve upon some day, but I do prefer typing, after all.
Even when instant messaging through a platform like Facebook, I find that I'm far more articulate and able to express things a lot more succinctly than with speech. This is because my words can flow more quickly than they could ever come out of my mouth. But, trust me, finding my own unique voice in writing took me quite a while. All of the many instant messenger sessions and notebook scribblings I’ve had over the years certainly helped in finding my writing voice.
When I was in high school, students were often forced to write their essays in the dreaded five-paragraph format. Being a passive-aggressive rebel, I often neglected to write that way. Because of this, I was often graded poorly on many assignments. I just let my words flow without any regard for the restrictions we were meant to respect. These restrictions seemed ridiculous to me.
I had been developing my writing abilities for several years up until that point. Still, I have to admit I was a fairly amateur writer in junior high, because I still hadn't yet found my voice. By the time I got to around my sophomore year in high school, however, it was clear that I had developed a specific style. No one could make me deviate from it.
I'm glad I stayed the course with finding my own writing voice. While my writing voice is far more refined now, I look back at work I wrote over a decade ago, and it's written with pretty much the same voice I started writing with back then! So, my rebellious nature when it came to developing my own writing style allowed me to bring you the voice in writing you read today.
Of course, the lesson here is that all it takes to develop a voice in writing is practice. Don’t let anyone try to force any arbitrary rules on you, besides conventions of grammar and spelling - those rules are fine. It's really as simple as just writing as much as you can and about as many topics as you can. Simply build your vocabulary and exercise your writing abilities at least once a day.
You’re going to struggle at times. A lot of what you write may not look too great to you later on, but you need the exercise. You'll find that after enough practice, you'll actually start to find yourself writing very naturally. Even without having some innate talent for it in the beginning, anyone can write given the proper practice and devotion to the craft. Once you develop a voice in your writing, you can write about anything, anytime, anywhere!
Outside of public speaking, writing is the best way to find your voice. Of course, many of the greatest public speeches were written down first, too. Be a rebel. Make your voice heard. Everyone has a voice, and having a strong voice in writing is something no one can take away from you. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you otherwise.
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