Whether you want to write a short story, a personal profile or some web copy for your business, it can be difficult to find your unique ‘voice’ – the sentiment that weaves through your chosen words to form an instant impression in your readers’ minds.
If you’re writing for business, you’ll probably want to use a professional voice that leaves readers wanting to buy from you. Writing a short story means finding an expressive voice that resonates with readers, making them empathise with and experience intense emotion alongside your characters.
So it goes to follow that getting your writing voice right is important – but it’s often not quite as difficult to get right as you might think.
It might sound strange to say this when I’m in the business of trying to win writing work for myself! – but there have been occasions when I’ve told prospective clients that they don’t really need me, because the piece of writing sent for me to look over already captures everything they were looking for.
For example, I recently returned a job application letter to someone looking for a new role, anxious to make the right impression. I read through the job specification he sent me, and then his letter, which had been well-crafted, properly tailored to the role and was just the right length. More than that, from our conversation beforehand I could see that his letter read clearly like him.
When I first started out on my freelance writing career I was given a brief to write some website copy for a local decorating business. The owner was keen to project a more professional image and insisted he couldn’t do this himself, even though he really enjoyed writing about his business on social media.
I read his social media updates, and his writing had so much wonderful warmth and heart throughout, that to have made it more ‘professional’ would have taken away from his obvious love for the work he did. That was his unique voice; it was what set him apart from his competitors with their slick-as-anything images, and while I made some obvious corrections (spelling and grammar is still important, folks!) and guided him through his website copy, the actual words were his.
An avid reader, I often pick up books or read writing online that really shouldn’t work – novels that have been translated into English are classic examples! – because sentences have been constructed using English that’s too correct, or they read in a way that would sound awkward if they were spoken aloud. Yet I keep on reading, because something about the story or the characters pull me in, and the writing itself, though technically flawed, is endearingly unique.
If you’re trying to write something important yourself, worrying that you might not create the right impression, I recommend simply beginning by writing from the heart. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but you’d be surprised how it so often works!
Give your words to an objective someone else to read, then ask them to describe their very first impression. If it’s what you’re looking for, then congratulations – you’ve found your voice.
Need any help finding your voice in words? I can help – simply get in contact for a chat.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
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