Finding your voice requires doing lots of different kinds of writing. Some people write half a dozen novels before realizing that novels are not their way of expressing what they want to say. Others blog for years and then realize it’s not working. But, you have to do the writing before you can know if it’s the way to bring out your voice. Isn’t there a shortcut?
If you have one writing project, you’ll find out how much you like that kind of writing. You will have to make an absolute evaluation because you have no other writing to compare it to. You may like it better than your day job, but that may not say much. The kind of writing you will enjoy most stays hidden.
If you have two writing projects, you can make a relative evaluation. Which of the two kinds of writing do you like better? I’m running this kind of test by concurrently writing a novel and short articles for my writing blog. A book feels like more of an accomplishment to me. Is fiction or non-fiction better at expressing your voice? I’m still working on that question. Much more writing will be necessary. I’m okay with that. I want to do much more writing. And so do you or you wouldn’t be reading about finding your voice.
Writing short stories and articles is a fast way to find your voice. It’s quicker than writing a book and less of a big deal if a project fails.
One way that short stories will fail to help you find your voice is that they don’t give the same satisfaction as writing a full length novel. This parallels reading short stories and novels. Reading a novel is an adventure. Reading a short story? Not so much. I find myself wishing the stories were even shorter so I can move on to reading a book.
Limited satisfaction issues aside, there is still some satisfaction. The relative difference in writing short stories for many genres will tell you where you’re finding your voice for fiction.
Non-fiction is easier in one way. There’s not much difference between reading a non-fiction article or book. There doesn’t seem to be a difference between writing non-fiction articles and books either. I have two non-fiction books planned, one on writing and one on psychology. I’m going to finish my novel before deciding which of those projects to tackle next. I may just move on to my next novel. I’m finding the project very interesting.
Again, writing non-fiction articles on more than one subject “should” reveal your voice. I’m not convinced that there is a voice to be found in non-fiction because I don’t see much difference in writing articles about psychology or writing. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a long term interest in both.
Trial and Evaluation
Write lots and then review what you write. Did you like writing it? Do you like reading it?
There is no other way to find your voice. You must do the writing before you will know what it is you most need to say.
I believe my voice will be found in writing novels about people who find their lives are meaningful because of what they do. Which genre will be the best vehicle for that expression is still up in the air. I sometimes say my first novel is a crime novel. It’s also a mystery or detective novel. One character is a mass murderer, so maybe it’s a thriller. The central theme is closest to literature. The main characters are ordinary people trying to become successful. Maybe my voice is best expressed in a literary novel.
Where will you find your voice?
Article by Ivan Izo.