Do you let your voice shine through your writing?
Everyone has a unique writing voice and style. Have you found yours?
I was trained as a journalist in college. Trained, like a performing dog, to write using a very specific formula for creating a news story, and another for creating a feature article, and another for rewriting press releases, and yet another for writing an obituary. There was little room for creativity and I found it to be a thoroughly voice crushing experience. It was cramping my style. I can put this skill to use when there is a need, but it doesn’t flow from me with ease.
Sometimes your writing voice is your thinking voice; sometimes it’s your speaking voice. Sometimes it can be drastically different from who you seem to be entirely.
My writing voice is obvious to me. It is my thinking voice. And this is how I think. Snippets. Incomplete sentences. Abrupt. And also long, unending run on sentences that seem to go on forever and ever because the thought is expansive in some way and I just can’t fully explain it with out using many colorful, elaborate words. This has always been my voice, since the third grade when I was first inspired to write a book about my life and my feelings. I quickly ran in to some technical problems with my Apple IIe and never did complete the manuscript. Yes, the writer’s many excuses is a topic for another article.
I don’t think grammatically. I think I may have been born without the grammar gene. I know this drives some readers crazy and they want to tell me how to fix it and why to fix it and how much damage I am doing to the reputation of the English language because I refuse to fix it. I know it is there irking you, but I often just prefer the way it feels. My own little rebellion, I suppose.
Most of the time I seek to amuse my reader with my writing voice, but I am not all that amusing live and in person. I hate small talk. I just want to get right to the heart of the matter. Tell me what you are all about. Tell me about your struggles and triumphs or be done with me. I can’t connect well with people casually in the hi, how’s the weather manner. Oh, unless you want to talk about the cold and how monumentally annoying and disruptive it is to life. I try to connect with readers on a deeper level, letting them know that I get it, what ever it is.
Writing and real life personalities don’t usually match up perfectly. A meek person can write with fire and a fiery person can write with gentleness. A shy recluse can write effectively about social issues and a social butterfly can communicate the pain of loneliness.
Explore a little with your writing voice. Try a new one. There is no rule book that states one voice per writer. Follow your thoughts and let them stream out onto the page. Talk as you write and see where it goes. When the world looks drab, ordinary and plain reach back into your memory for something beautiful or intense to mull over in your mind and find a new angle.
Nurture Your Writing Voice
Nurture the passion and creativity within you and watch your writing voice come bouncing out like a super bouncy ball or flowing through you like a tranquil, steady stream. And start your sentences with AND however often you like and don’t let your creativity and voice be stifled by anyone, or any method or any theory or any stylebook. Then, when your voice is clear and strong, you can use such resources to sharpen and enhance your work. That is, if you want to, have to or feel like it, or if you are overcome by the immense responsibility of being a grammatically correct member of society.
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amy jane (author) from Connecticut on June 24, 2012:
Thanks! I've accumulated all these comments over the course of a few years. This article has been used as part of an assignment for beginning writers on the university level, so that has brought many visitors here. :)
Vrijdag Pages on June 09, 2012:
Good article. Going to share this article on Delicious.com as it is quite amazing and also on my hubs. How do you get so may comments though? :)
Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on June 04, 2012:
Great article. Can't say much more than what has already been shared in the many comments. I think I have my voice pretty fixed. Often, those who don't write will try to "fix" my fiction until I explain that they should read it the way it's written. Voted up.
arnirob on May 15, 2012:
Enjoyable hub for reader and helpful for the new writer.
Thanks Amy i will try to follow your writing philosophy.
SueRobFlag from Bremerton, WA on September 08, 2011:
This hub was really helpful :)
I'm still finding my voice and I think I might have more then one though :P
I look forward for more from you!
Joyce F from USA on January 17, 2011:
Thank you . . . I think with ellipsis and dashes and incomplete thoughts. Great article, thanks for the links.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on January 10, 2011:
Thank you all for your warm and encouraging comments! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this hub. :)
Mohan Kumar from UK on January 07, 2011:
This is a good piece of writing- full of insight and sage advice. I like your 'voice' it is personal and endearing. That's what connects with the reader. Great hub!
juliancreative from cape cod ,massachuttes on December 10, 2010:
hi a really wonderful article full of motivation too.can you please offer some advice to me on my previus articles and recent one too about what you think of them.if you have time,thank you.julian creative. firstname.lastname@example.org
DSteelman from Bucks County, PA on December 05, 2010:
As an aspiring writer, I found this very useful. Thanks for posting! I am trying to break into the world of print and am finding it a little trying.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on October 11, 2010:
Thank you all for the comments. It is so gratifying to hear that this hub is still speaking to my writing friends! I still occasionally lose my writing voice - and have to go rediscover it again. I think finding and using your voice is a life long journey.
Michael Miller from Las Vegas on August 31, 2010:
My English teachers (especially in college) always drilled into my head that grammer is a requirement of good writing, even though it's a pain in the butt! But having a unique voice just seems so much more important.
Thanks for the hub amy, great confidence booster!
seandundon on April 21, 2010:
Hey, great article! There is another, Let Your Voice Be Heard in Essays (https://www.rockpaperhelp.com/content/let-your-voi... that touches on this subject, but focuses on essays.
Christian Awogbade on March 19, 2010:
Thanks Amy. Very helpful article.
Moesky on March 02, 2010:
Beautifully engaging Hub. One thing the internet has done for us is allow the thinkers and talkers to also become writers - and we are all thinkers (not all talkers!).
And with so many people turned onto writing, finally we can be freed from "writing rules".
Ronnie Sowell from South Carolina on February 04, 2010:
Enjoyed your hub. I think I found my writer's voice and that's a good thing. When I meet someone new and tell them my name is Ronnie they invariably say "Nice to meet you, Bryan."
I'll check out some more of your hubs.
knowledgeispower on January 09, 2010:
Thanks for composing this excellent hub on finding your very own voice and writing style.
WritingResolution on January 02, 2010:
I like this topic. You are a pleasant read. I bet you would enjoy reading Donald Miller: Blue Like Jazz or A Thousand Miles in a Million Years. He has one of the most authentic writing styles I have ever read. Similar to your own style. Cheers!
scheng1 on December 12, 2009:
I dont have the grammar genes too! Probably we come from the same ancestor thousand of years ago.
Carolyn Blacknall from Houston, Texas on December 05, 2009:
Excellent hub! I tend to write in snippets and incomplete sentences, too, but that doesn't bother me because I want to get the writing flowing first and edit later. If you want, check out my hub at https://hubpages.com/literature/How-to-Write-a-Rep for writing information. Thanks for writing your hub. – Carol
Healthyminds on December 03, 2009:
this is very interesting and entertaining to me...really,I haven't read such an amazing article a long time ago...I have multiple writing voices, but mostly it is my thinking voice (which is changing),..Also, English is not my mother tounge, so I think this adds a new problem to the voice matter..
Definitely a masterpiece, Amy...thanks a lot
I also learned a new word "irking"....the word itself is irking to read, how did you come up with it :D
thanks a lot
keep it up
Elyse Eaton on November 21, 2009:
I am finding that my writing voice is more like the 'real' me than who people perceive me to be. Or at least how I think they are perceiving me to be. Wait. I think I just confused myself and probably anyone else reading this comment. Or is that just my erroneous perception? :)
nigelking from Planet Earth - I think! on November 17, 2009:
That was interesting. I never thought about my writing voice. Not sure if I have found it yet. But now I have read this Hub, I am seeking it!
Dawn Curio Psyche on November 11, 2009:
That was a beautiful article! You are very eloquent. Lots of adjectives, relevant and tied-together. Flowing.
Everything you said, I feel as if you were speaking for me, because I am the exact same way. I especially feel the nagging critic in the back of my head when I am writing in fragments. But I love them so much. Fragments are a brief, abrupt way to rhythmically speak in writing. It conveys the message that the speaker is set on something, and not wrongly so.
eheverett from South Paris, Maine on November 11, 2009:
I really enjoyed reading your article. A person can learn so much from you. Thanks, Amy Jane.
CynthiaF61 from Tennessee on November 04, 2009:
Great article! I agree 100% that we need to write in our own voice. Thanks! I'll be reading more of your hubs!
abcd1111 from Glen Ellyn, IL (Chicago suburb) on October 17, 2009:
Nice hub Amy. Finding your voice can be so rewarding. I know sometimes people offer me constructive advice on what I write and am always open to helpful comments, but sometimes you are who you are, and that's how you write.
It's taken me some time to get there, but I'm getting much closer.
Thanks for encouraging others.
Shekhar K from India on October 14, 2009:
Thanks Amy, this hub inspired me a lot to express myself in writing. From a long time I've been working on improving my writing skills and I was always worried about the grammer and the difficult words. You have given me confidence to put down my thought without worrying about criticism.
create a page from Maryland, USA on October 11, 2009:
amy jane, I really really loved this article. I never thought of the term a writing voice before, but you are right. I have on occasions even spoke to myself while I was writing, and I found it fascinating. Thank you so much for the enlightenment. I will read more hubs of yours for more insight.
wordsword on September 28, 2009:
I agree with you, there is an underlying voice that guides not the reader alone but also for the writer. Finding the writing style and the voice will surely benefit the writer. Nice hub.
Shawndy on September 14, 2009:
Thank you so much for the hub! I really enjoyed reading it! I love to write poetry and have never really tried to write much of anything else. It was great to hear someone who is a very skilled writer explain that your voice is the important part! At this point that's all I've got!! lol
Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on August 31, 2009:
I began calling myself a 'writer' only a few months ago and am very comforted by entries such as these. It took me a long time to think enough of my writing to use the word self-descriptively. So when other people who write admit struggling with 'voice' and 'usage', etc., I just know that I am in the right place.
Thanks again, amy jane, for this 'taste of your voice'!
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on August 30, 2009:
I've never thought much about my writing voice. I just write the way it flows out of me. Then I go back and fix what doesn't seem to flow easily. The purpose of grammar and usage rules is not to be a straitjacket; they are to help us learn to communicate clearly. I love to start sentences with "and" and "but," and sometimes I do. But when we break the rules without knowing what we're doing, we sometimes make it hard for people to understand us. If grammatical errors don't jump out and scream at educated readers who aren't just trying to be picky, one is probably not committing any grave grammatical sins. You certainly communicated clearly in what you wrote. Most readers don't have a red pen mentality. If you engage them immediately and get them interested in what you're writing, they will forgive the errors an English teacher might not. But if your style violates too many rules, you probably won't be able to hold onto your readers because it won't be easy to understand you.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on August 18, 2009:
You're welcome! Keep writing, enjoying and expressing yourself. Your voice will emerge clearly and quite naturally.
myawn from Florida on August 18, 2009:
Nice way of putting things. I know I tend to write about things I feel strongly and I am passtionate about. I like humuor sometimes too. I try to get across what I am feeling to people. Thanks!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on July 25, 2009:
Hi Maggs! I too feel that my knowledge of grammar is mediocre, but I'm not sure why. I did decide somewhere along the way that it doesn't matter enough for me to worry about it. Many editors would disagree with my opinion, but if you can express yourself clearly, if people feel your emotion, if you are enjoying your written creations, you are on the right track.
I enjoy your writing, and would not have suspected any lack of grammar training!
maggs224 from Sunny Spain on July 15, 2009:
What a fascinating hub my formal education was very poor and my knowledge of grammar almost none existent so I am always a little self conscious about my writing contravening rules that I know nothing about. It is very encouraging to read someone that has written professionally say that being grammatically correct is not the be all and end all of writing.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on June 22, 2009:
Thank you all for the comments! I agree, relaxing is key. When many people sit down to write, they think they need to mimic what they read elsewhere. I think that completely cuts off your unique voice!
Annie from NewYork on May 30, 2009:
Good hub,l always knew that when l was writing l felt different, Now l know that it is my thinking voice..Thanks to you.
Alan on May 29, 2009:
Excellent hub. What you say is important for so many people. From my own work I know that many people could find new employment and a more interesting lifestyle if only they could find their writing voice (and be comfortable with it). Too many people get stuck trying to write everything in a very formal way. That can be good but, it can also paralyze.
deeper voice on May 29, 2009:
The key is in relaxing. This is a great article.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on May 13, 2009:
Hi Tdarby - I get caught up in the rules now and then myself. It truly is your own unique voice that will make you stand out in the crowd. Looking forward to reading yours!
tdarby on May 12, 2009:
Thanks amy jane. I needed that "permission" to go back to writing just exactly how I want to. I often find myself doing what the rule writers tell me to and forget that the voice of the writer is what is so interesting.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on February 15, 2009:
Thanks Marisa! I'm glad I'm not the only sentence fragmenter around. :) I think you're right, if we all wrote perfectly it would be very dry reading. Thanks for commenting!
Kate Swanson from Sydney on February 12, 2009:
Amy Jane, I wouldn't say you were grammatically incorrect at all! Yes, if I ran your Hub through the MSWord grammar checker, it would pick all kinds of faults - but honestly, if we all wrote grammatically perfect prose, it would sound horribly stilted and old-fashioned. Modern English usage and strictly perfect grammar are two different things, IMO. And I'm a sentence fragmenter, too!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on November 19, 2008:
Hi Feline Prophet, thanks for commenting. I agree - it is interesting to see what writing voices will pop up when you allow oyurself to play and explore your vioce!
Feline Prophet on November 07, 2008:
Great hub Amy Jane! I'm only recently discovering that I have two very distinct writing styles...one is a flaky, frivolous one and the other is actually veering to the more introspective and serious. Makes me wonder what else is going to pop up!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on October 14, 2008:
Hi Mezo, thank you for your kind words! I'm looking forward to reading your hubs. I'm sure I will appreciateyour unique writing style. :)
Motaz from Egypt on October 14, 2008:
Hi amy, I liked this article, and in fact i find your grammar to be correct, you are a gifted writer..im notgifted, but i think in the same way,,snippets, flashes of ideas just come and change and go! and that's how i write most of the time
thnx a lot
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on September 14, 2008:
Hi Mike, I like the idea of using a top watch. Sometimes I hestitate when i just need to put thoughts onto paper. Thanks for reading - great to meet you too!
mikeq107 on September 13, 2008:
Great hub , you hit the nail on the head, for some reason we have been taught that there are rules! but those were just made by teachers who were taught by someone else.......anyway point is sky is the limit with our imagineations and spelling LOL...i write the way I talk and think...i wrote the Hub...ROME AND AMERICA....with the first thoughts that came into my head when a friend gave me a title and started the sTop watch and coupled with the fact I come from the land of Blarney.. good old ireland I have an arsenal of words...I mean our national past time was gabbing with our neighbours and swapping stories at the local pub...anyway ...great Hub ...Great to meet you....Mike Quinlan
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on May 16, 2008:
You are welcome, uninvited writer. Thanks for reading!
Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 15, 2008:
A very good hub, thanks :)
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on May 15, 2008:
dutch84 on May 15, 2008:
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on May 13, 2008:
Thanks so much, Danielmybrother. i am so glad you liked it! I come back and read it myself when I need a reminder that writing is fun, because this really was fun to write. :)
danielmybrother from D.C. on May 12, 2008:
As a writer, I enjoyed reading this and found it insightful. And liberating!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on April 07, 2008:
Hi Cheryl, thanks for reading and commenting :)
Hi Sally, certainly food for thought! I see myself as grammatically incorrect, yet no one else seems to notice. I find that so confusing! It is fascinating to think about how others perceive us, either through our writing or in person. People are never what they appear to be anyway, right? I know I am not. At least, I am not what people guess just by looking at me. A writing voice may be a most accurate view into a person. Hmmm...my kids ate all the cookies.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 07, 2008:
Amy Jane, it is so interesting that I "hear" my voice so differently than you do. Your affirming comment caused me to think about why that might be.
My thoughts go along these lines...when we look at ourselves in a mirror, we do not see what others see when they look at us directly, and that is because our faces are not symmetrical. Artists have wrestled with this fact of asymmetrical facial features for centuries. Even now, we wonder if the image we have of Leonardo da Vinci through his self portraits would allow us to identify him in a crowd at, let's say, a flea market or a NASCAR race. Chuck Close is easier; he painted his self-portraits from photo images, images that told him what his face looks like from others' visual points of view. We can pick him out of that crowd in an instant.
So I wonder if our perceptions of our own writing voices are somehow affected by an asymmetry. For example, if the right brain is responsible for processing spatial, non-verbal information, and the left brain leans more toward the verbal and a concrete, conscious thought process, then maybe our own perceptions of our writing voices are somehow reversed, or at least confused?
Anyway, as I said, food for thought! I need a cookie now.
Warmest regards, S.
CherylT2 from Baltimore, MD on April 07, 2008:
I also write in snippets and bursts. Thanks for a great article.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on April 07, 2008:
Sally, your voice is very clear to me! Even when you post comments or in the forum, I think I would recognize you without your name :) Your writing has a distinctive flow that I really enjoy... thank you for reading and commenting!
Hi Robie, I agree, hubpages is a great place to unwind after years of writing for others standards or requirements. Thanks so much for stopping in!
Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on April 05, 2008:
I love your voice, Amy Jane, and certainly have never been tempted to call the grammar police on you-- Not that I am on good terms with them either. I spent so much of my writing life doing the kind of formula writing you talk about that I am really loving "unwinding" here on Hubpages and letting my voice do its own thing:-)
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on April 05, 2008:
After years of producing numbing cookie-cutter writings for a living, I am now looking for my voice. My voice is not obvious to me. I know I have it, I just can't find it.
It could be under the bed, in a corner of the kitchen, in some dank and dusty lost-and-found drawer in a worm-riddled desk, or in Australia. It could be in a letter I wrote to a friend years ago. It could be in a poem I penned as a child. Perhaps it is in the silent conversations I have with myself. At times, it plays hide-n-seek with me, allowing only a glimpse of itself before vanishing again. I don't know where it is, yet I know it is somewhere.
Amy, what an insightful hub this is. You inspire me to intensify the search and rescue mission.
Warm regards, S.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on March 27, 2008:
Thanks, TwoCansMom! I like to ditch the rules, on occasion :)
TwoCansMom on March 26, 2008:
You are so right about style and grammar. For our voice to be realistic, we have to break the rules sometimes. We don't speak the way we write, so to follow the rules unconditionally takes our writing even farther away from our speaking voice.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on March 26, 2008:
Thank you, Akeejaho. Never apologize for your writing style!
akeejaho from Some where in this beautiful world! on March 25, 2008:
Nice Hub Amy. It is nice to know I don't have to apologize for the style I feel comfortable writing in. Keep it up.
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on March 25, 2008:
Thanks, Rob! I hope let that stream of consciousness bug run wild every now and then, just for fun :)
Rob Jundt from Midwest USA on March 25, 2008:
Another great hub. My voice tends to ramble on, and on, and on... I fight the stream of consciousness bug all the time. Thankfully, the ability to downsize and edit was drilled into me by a few journalism professors back in the day. I enjoy your style. Keep on going!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on March 05, 2008:
Hi Lissie, I am always missing words too when I write, or I write half a word because I am trying to get all my thoughts out fast :) Thanks for reading!
Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on March 05, 2008:
Interesting - I think I write the way I talk - but then I have to go back and fix the spelling and put all the little words in that I missed like but, to, not etc!
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 04, 2008:
This is a good one, Amy! A keeper for sure... :-)
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on March 04, 2008:
Thanks Mark, I appreciate it :)
Mark Knowles on March 04, 2008:
Just stopping by and upping the page views, LOL
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on February 20, 2008:
Hi C-Lee, thanks so much! I am going to go take a look at that now and I'll come back to comment!
amy jane (author) from Connecticut on February 20, 2008:
Thanks Rainbow, glad you enjoyed it. i think you will enjoy the links too - they are from a less personal / more practical view :)
C-Lee on February 20, 2008:
Delightful and encouraging! Thanks.
Amy Jane, I want to share this article with you. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0... It's old, but I ran into it recently and the boldness of her voice was what struck me most. Let me know what you think?
RainbowRecognizer from Midwest on February 20, 2008:
Thank you, Amy - this is a great article - I'm going to visit some of the links in my next period of "Me" time :o)