Finding Your Voice (Tips from a Mermaid)
Do you ever feel your writing voice is vague, not “you” enough or laying in the clutches of an evil sea witch?
Whether you are trying to solidify your writing voice as a comedian, poet, blog writer or a copywriter, having your own unique voice is imperative for your career.
Like Ariel, it can be overwhelming when your writing is missing the key ingredient to keeping your readers engaged, your voice. So what exactly is your steez, your soul, your flare, your take on writing?
Well it’s time to explore all of the oceans of your creativity to find it… just don’t book a consultation with that sea witch, trust me it get weird.
These tips will help your writing style get its land-legs, find your voice and maybe even meet a handsome prince along the way!
Describe Your Ideal Voice
A great way to start finding your ideal voice is to describe it in three words. I’m a comedian (I know hard eye roll, right?) and the three words I use to describe my ideal stand-up style are wacky, specificand physical. These three words helped me to focus on developing these traits in my comedy writing.
Once you select your words start to tailor your writing to invoke those characteristics. If you want your poetry to be more romantic try layering your voice with literary tools like romantic metaphors, symbolism, or use a thesaurus to switch out “boring” words for more romantic ones!
Maybe explore different genres that specialize in romanticism to get inspired! If you start to feel unsure if your writing is “on brand” with your voice just go back to those three words and keep it simple.
Next, find artists that inspire you. These artist can be telling of your desired voice, plus you can learn from their craftsmanship. Jot down traits about their work you like. Chances are there is a common thread.
For example, my three favorite comedians are Jim Carrey, Amy Sedaris, and Maria Bamford. All of their work is all highly wacky, specific and physical!
Seeing their work helped me to describe the type of comedy I wanted to create.
Write Like You Talk
This is the opposite of what your high school writing teacher would say, but write like you talk. Okay? No one wants to read dry, lifeless writing. Most readers are skimming the words you have painstakingly crafted with your blood, sweat and sea foam. So if you have read up until this point, I love you.
My point is, words are easier to connect to if they sounds human. Think of your favorite author, though you may have never heard their speaking voice you automatically hear their voice when you read their words. That is why it’s called a writer’s “voice” because your readers should be able to hear you in it.
Some ways you can achieve this is to experiment with punctuation, sentence length and conversational phrasing. As long as you are following grammatical rules it's perfectly fine to play with these elements to sound more like you.
Maybe get crazy and throw in some slang, italicize a word or… start a sentence with “and!” Yes, starting a sentence with “and” is what freedom feels like. But before you throw shade at my ellipses remember it's punctuation that can translate suspense or a break in your voice. Try it!
Another exercise you can do is to read your writing out loud to someone! Writing sounds completely different once you actually hear it. Reading it out loud will help you to gauge how it sounds to a reader and edit anything off track from your voice.
One of my favorite authors, renown copywriter Luke Sullivan, is a master of his writing voice. His book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is a great example of a clear artistic voice that holds the reader's attention. His writing is so causal and humorous I feel like I know him personally, even though I don’t.
Whenever I read his writing I automatically hear how he would say the words because it's so specific to his voice. You can tell he writes like he talks!
Follow Your Curiosity
Follow your curiosity, it will lead you to your voice. Your voice will continue to develop and grow with time and it is important to follow your curiosity to allow that to happen.
Artistic curiosity is very intuitive. If you are curious about something then it may have something to teach you.
Additionally, exploring creative avenues will quickly show you what is not for you and what is. Trying new things will help you to get clear on what you want for your voice. Think of it as creative tindr but without the ghosting.
So what is tugging at your curiosity? Is it a new genre writing class? A local art show? Or something completely unrelated to your art? Follow it like that niche instagram influencer with hair so perfect you can’t really trust it. When you follow your curiosity you will learn tools, insight, and inspiration that will inform and shape your voice.
As a comedian, it has taken me a long time to find my unique voice. I have studied various forms of comedy such as improv, sketch writing, clowning, stand-up and even pole dancing in search of my voice.
All of the classes and live shows I watched helped me to develop a style of comedy that is uniquely my own. I wouldn’t have found my voice if I hadn’t followed my curiosity.
And just like The Little Mermaid, who I always wanted to be when I grew up, curiosity helped me to find a new world I didn’t know existed before.
These steps will help you to develop your own authentic voice and distinguish your voice from other brands you may be writing for. Cultivating your voice is essential for your career as a writer and completely within your control.
Remember your voice is always growing so be patient and open to where it leads you!