Voice is your personal way of telling a story. But it is not just how you speak. It also includes how you think, how you feel. It reflects all the parts of yourself, all your experiences. It is you.
Although news reporting often leaves little room for your own voice, a personal voice is important for feature articles on travel, entertainment, food, arts, and daily living, as well as editorials.
How do you find your voice? Be yourself. Be open. Listen. Play. Experiment. Soon your voice will be leading you.
Try some of these exercises:
- Set a timer for five minutes. Then write without stopping until the time is up. Write as fast as you can. Write freely, putting down whatever comes to mind. What you write can be nonsense. It can be repetitive. It doesn’t have to be important. The important thing is to keep writing. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Don’t stop to organize or understand what you have written. Just write. Try the exercise for longer periods of time—ten minutes, twenty minutes.
- Open your senses to your surroundings. Go to the mall and listen to the sounds of shoppers, salespeople, and machines. Attend a sports event and experience the smells, tastes, and feelings of the scene. At a dance, observe the DJ or the band playing. Watch the people dancing, talking, and having fun. Afterwards write about what you heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or saw.
- Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Daydream out loud. When you are finished, write down what you said. Later read aloud what you wrote.
- Tell a story as if someone is interrupting you. Then tell the same story all in one breath, with no interruptions. Think about how the stories differed.
These exercises can reveal your voice. After completing them, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who’s writing or telling this story?
- Do I feel connected to the writing or story?
- Could this be someone else’s work?
- Have I written or told the story freely, without trying to make it presentable to someone else?
- Have I held back from being myself in this piece?
When you’ve found your voice—that is, when you begin to see yourself in your writing—you’ll want to hold on to it and keep it alive. A journal is a good place to do that.
Keeping a Journal