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The Real Truth About The Writer’s Voice

writer's voiceI had a revelation this morning. Or an epiphany, or a realization, an insight – no, not the solution to world peace, but into what’s really going on with the notion of  writer’s voice.

A generally accepted definition of “Writer’s voice is the literary term used to describe the individual writing style of an author.”

That’s exactly what I had in mind when I wrote 5 Tips for Developing Your Writing Voice.

Now, I stand by every one of those five tips. In fact, I was pleased when I looked up the article to find that, at least in part, they point to what I realized this morning:

Finding your writing voice is not so much a matter of style as it is about discovering what YOU really want to say.

Another way to say it is once you find out what you have to say your voice will follow automatically.

This is why you’re told so often to write what you’re passionate about.

I’ve actually had this information buried in my unconscious for years. It’s why my book, Powerfully Recovered! still works after years. It’s also why, on the whole, this blog works. In both cases I’m pretty passionate about what I’m writing about. I don’t have to work at my voice.  As long as I stay true to what I know, to what I believe, to what I want to to say and what I have to say, the voice just happens.

It’s also why WhenGrandmotherSpeaks hasn’t yet worked well. I know what I want to do – I want to change the world! And I even have some ideas about how that might happen, but I’ve been hesitant to speak out about what I believe clearly and firmly. Part of that hesitancy comes from the recognition that I might be wrong and that I don’t have all the answers. But that’s false humility and moves nothing forward, and that shows up  in the writing. My job there has just gotten clearer. My hunch is my writing will get better there too, as long as I stay bold.

Now, I can hear you saying ‘… but how do I write with passion about right-handed widgets? I hate widgets, but they’re paying me a ton.”

You’re right, as a freelance writer, at least in the beginning, you probably won’t get paid for only writing what you’re passionate about. That’s when articles like my 5 Tips can help. Writing honestly and like you’re talking to a friend, while picturing a reader will help you write reasonably well even about topics you have no interest in. You won’t, however, do any great or truly moving writing from that position.

It takes passion as well as dedication to get even close to great writing – whatever that might be.

Part of the goal, I suspect, for the freelance writer should probably include to write what you are passionate about, what you feel strongly about, what you want to communicate to the world. Not at the exclusion of earning a living, but as an aiming point that will help you move your writing forward.

I suspect the world needs what you have to say, and what I have to say. We have to dig deep to find it, and then we have to speak up. Our voice will follow.

What do you think? Does this make sense to you?

Write well and often,


Image from http://www.sxc.hu

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Lynn

    Direction is also my problem. I’m just starting out and while I love anything to do w/weddings, I’m also interesting in writing for women’s advocacy issues such as domestic violence. I truly don’t know where to start. Do you think I should focus on just one . . since I’m just starting out?

    • Lynn, there’s no reason why you can’t write about both and see where that leads.

  • I find passion is not the problem for me, it’s direction. I’ve had 3 blogs so far and I finally took your advice and am writing about what I know–my recovery from alcoholism. I want to thank you for being an inspiration by being open about yours. I hope the new blog takes off!
    Heid recently posted..Step 9- Your EnemyMy Profile

  • Mary

    Thanks for voicing my sentiments! I’m also a grandmother with much to say,but practiclity trumps wisdom – somehow it helps to know others have that problem also!

    • Mary, isn’t it amazing how much we really are like others?

  • Great work as usual, Anne! Nice to see someone so committed to writing as you. I agree that you simply have to give your soul to what you write, else it will show. Yes, it can get a bit on the edge at times, epsecially if you are dealing with a controversial topic. But at the end of the day, you just need to be honest for your “voice” to shine (or shall we say, “boom”) through. 🙂
    Priya Viswanathan recently posted..Android Market Vs Apple App StoresMy Profile

    • Thanks, Priya, glad you liked the post… an edge can be hard to find sometimes… but the passion will show through regardless.

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