For many writers, voice is difficult to identify because it is often confused with tone or style, but it is more than either of these. Tone refers to the mood of the specific piece of writing and style refers to the way in which you use words to create structure and balance. Your voice is the elusive quality to makes your writing come to life on the page.
Think of your favorite singer. He or she probably has a preferred style of music— from soulful Blues to good old rock-n-roll. He may also prefer a certain tone from uplifting songs of praise to the dark and foreboding. Others may share the style and tone of his music—yet he possesses the power to create a unique experience for the listener. That power is his voice.
A writing voice is a lot like that. It embodies more than style and tone. Your writing voice makes connections with your readers and inspires action or elicits emotion. Your voice is the director, while style and tone are merely actors. They can be recast at any time, but your voice cannot.
Finding your voice requires courage and faith. The courage to put a bit of who you are into everything you write and the faith that there are readers who seek what you have to offer. It isn’t always easy, and it is always comfortable—but until you are ready and willing to go beyond the basics of style and tone and add your personal voice to your work, you will never really know what you are capable of as a writer.
Tips for Finding Your Writing Voice
Write from the heart. Whether you are writing fiction or a simple instructional article, when you write from the heart, your natural voice is unveiled. Use your passion to develop a clear voice.
Picture your audience. Write as though your readers are a friend that you want to share your information with. Use language appropriate for the reader and your voice will come shining through.
Read. Read. Read. Think about the ways the author uses her voice to enhance the style and tone of the piece.
Explore. Write on a variety of topics geared to different audiences. Observe how your writing voice affects the outcome.