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5 Tips For Developing Your Freelance Writing Voice

writers voice megaphoneIn the end, the thing that sets you apart you from every other freelance writer is your writing voice. Of course, do the research or get the character and plot developed, but how you present the facts or set the scene is a function of your voice.

Dictionary.com defines voice this way: The distinctive style or manner of expression of an author or of a character in a book.

Voice is the reason why you can write an article on the 10 best ways to cook chicken and I can write an article with the same title, and even use the same recipes, but both articles end up being quite different. Each of us has our own set of experiences which we filter our writing through and each of us has our own, unique voice. Voice is also why popular genres like romance, thriller and mystery books have a definite similarity in plot (boy gets girl, hero stops disaster, who done it), you can read dozens of books in your favorite genre without getting bored; all authors have their own voice. We like some and don’t like others.

Although a writer’s voice comes pretty naturally over time, there are some things you can to develop your voice.  Here are 5 tips:

  1. Write honestly and from the heart.When you write from your feelings, your voice will happen. Of course, you’ll have to rewrite and edit, but allow your honest feelings to surface and show in the finished work.
  2. Write as if you were writing or talking to a friend. When you’re writing or talking with a friend, the honesty and passion show up. So does the clarity. Clarity, even simplicity, expressed through you will make your writing sing – in your voice.
  3. Picture your reader. Every time you write, you’re writing for a particular audience. Think how you would address one reader in that group as if they were a friend. Write for that person. When you write for one reader you’ll find it’s easier to let the passion develop.
  4. Read widely. Writers read and you should too. Read all sorts of things. Get out of your field and read something you’re not inclined to read. Notice the voice your reading. Can you see yourself writing that way? If not, why not? If you think you can, give it a try. As you read and practice stay aware of voice.

  5. Experiment. Break out of your comfort zone. If you always write articles, try writing a short story, or part of one. If you write mostly for high-end travel magazines, try something for children. The goal here isn’t to break into a new market, although that may happen, it’s to play and experiment and stretch your boundaries. You can even do this with a sentence or two as an exercise.

In many ways your writing voice is automatic. It’s built in. Which doesn’t mean you can’t improve it or enlarge it and develop even more flexibility and resourcefulness in your freelance writing.

Your writing voice is important. For example, read what agent Chip MacGregor has to say in his article, Finding Your Writing Voice. But don’t make yourself crazy – just pay attention to what you’re doing when you express yourself in writing.


Photo by theparadigmshifter – http://www.flickr.com/photos/theparadigmshifter/470341923/

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Great article as usual Anne! Sometimes just for giggles I’ll change my voice and try writing as someone else. That opens up my creative eyes and helps me try new and different ways of expressing myself. I do this mainly in my fiction writing. I struggle with sounding too analytical and technical in my articles sometimes and have to take a breath and loosen up a bit.

    I agree, reading widely and reading authors and subjects you might not think you’d like will sometimes surprise you. I used to keep a notebook of phrases and words that caught my eye to use later. Another point that I tell new writers is to write for yourself as well as your audience. This is a better point of advice for fiction writers since as an article writer you many times must write to your client’s specs, but it does help to silence the inner critic that sometimes stifles our creativity. Mainly the thing to remember is to keep writing and let it flow.
    Kathryn Pless recently posted..New Book by Maggie Shayne- Kill Me AgainMy Profile

    • Silencing that inner critic is often half the battle no matter how you do it.

  • Anne,
    so true. I work for a company that puts out a weekly newsletter. Instead of a bright and breezy piece that should bring the company together we normally end up with a stodgy 3-4 page document that is as easy to read as cement is to swallow…hardly pleasant, probably not good for you and bound to get stuck in your throat.
    These guys need to get a voice, I hear them talk around the office they are genuinely funny and interesting people. However for some reason they feel that if they are committing words to print it must be technical, it must be exact and it must be BORING!

    I love it when I get asked to contribute as I make my contribution as ‘un engineering / technical like’ as I can. My voice may not suit all, but it’s all mine and there’s no changing that!
    All the best
    Check me out
    .-= Will´s last blog ..
    Holy Bongo Playing Greek Philosophers! =-.

  • When reading widely, do not get tunnel vision. Try different genres.

    Keep more than hopes open when experimenting; retractions are not what they are hyped-up to be.

    Most of all, like words, wording and the meanings of both. Unique and ingenious use of common words grabs readers’ attention and shakes their thoughts into focus.
    .-= DokorThomas´s last blog ..Drafting Business Descriptions for Internet Marketing =-.

  • All true, spot on. Cynic that I am, I’d add another tip: “Have something to say.”

    I recently reviewed a piece of fiction for a workshop friend. The grammar was flawless; the punctuation was far better than average, the spelling was perfect. But the piece had no life. The main character moved around a little, had two or three meaningless conversations, mused about this and that. I’m not saying every chapter of a novel should be replete with pithy comments, deep metaphors, or witty dialogue, but I would like to take something away with me. I could have made suggestions (“get more into the character’s POV;” “add more conflict;” “tighten”). But I suspect the missing element was really theme, some underlying truth or statement. The writing was rudderless as a result. Feckless, even.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Watcher in the Night =-.

  • It is very true that each of us have our own style and “voice” as we write. Informative blog.
    .-= Jennyb´s last blog ..New Blog Address =-.

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