Sunday, May 2, 2010

Have You Lost Your Writing Voice?

If you've ever lost your voice, I'm sure you know how frustrating it is to not be able to talk. The only thing that comes out is a hoarse whisper. It's not a very pleasing sound. It's difficult to communicate and people can hardly understand what you're trying to say.

Losing your writing voice is just as frustrating as loosing your speaking voice. People don't understand you - your words come out sounding scratchy, or your voice varies each time you speak. How are you supposed to relate to people without a voice to communicate?

On the television show "American Idol", judges constantly ask the singers if they know who they are as a singer. Their voice, along with the genre of the music they want to pursue, their style, and their age all contribute to who they are as an artist. I'm 16, so my voice will read as a teenager, not an adult. The teenagers on American Idol are often told by the judges to sing songs that suit their age. In other words, don't try to sound like something you're not. Does your writing voice suit who you are? How do you know if you've completely lost your writing voice, or maybe you just can't seem to find it?

Without your voice, you can't communicate. Your voice is important. It has to be consistent. Do you know of anyone who has a different voice each time they speak? People recongize you not only by the words you say, but also by the voice you use to say your words.

Symptoms of Loss-of-Writing-Voice-Syndrome:
  • Your words don't have rhythm. If. Your. Sentences. Sound. As. Choppy. As. These. Words. Do - then most likely you are suffering from the loss of your writing voice. Don't be too upset though, there's a few cures that you could try.
  • Your words don't match your personallity. No offense to rebellious teenagers, but I don't think the poems that emo people write are all about sunshine and the beauty of nature.
  • Your words don't suit your age or your audience. Singers on children's shows will have a much different voice and style of singing than the singers on a gospel music show.
Your words don't suit your genre. A lead singer for a screamo band wouldn't sound the same as an opera singer, nor would they have the same audience. Authors who write for young adults will not write on the same level as those who write for business men.

So what are the cures? When singers lose their voice, they try everything they can to immediently get it back. They can't sing without it. It's impossible to create a new voice, so they have to find it instead. How do you find your voice? Is your voice being heard as just a slight whisper? Does it need to be stronger? Here are a few cures that I've learned. Feel free to comment with your own “remedies”.

Loss-of-Writing-Voice-Syndrome Cures:
Read it out loud. Your writing should reflect who you are. If what you wrote doesn't sound right when you say it aloud, then it won't sound right on paper. Do people often say that you're funny? Include more humor. Are you someone who is always cheering up people and encouraging them on? Then what you write should be uplifting. You recongize a writer by their voice and their style of writing just like you would recongize a singer by their voice and the style of their music.
*Think of the reasons you write. Do you write to inform or educate people? Do you write to encourage people, or make them laugh? Make sure to stay true to your writing purpose.
*Write constantly, read constantly. Eventually you'll hear your voice. This would be the opposite for a singer. When they loose their voice, they have to give it a rest for a few days. But writers have to keep writing words until we finally find our voice.
*Make sure your sentences aren't all the same length. Have them flow, like the beat to a melody.
*Let someone else read your writing. If someone you know personally reads your writing and doesn't think it sounds like you, try rewording it until it does.
*Don't force words. Let them come out on their own. Keep it natural. Ocassionally you may hit a road block, but for the most part the words should flow with ease.
*Take writing breaks. Don't try to complete a chapter if you've been writing nonstop for the past five hours. Just like resting helps you recover more quickly when you are sick, taking a writing rest will also help when you have been writing so much that the words are starting to bump into each other. Close the laptop and go out for a little while so that when you come back you'll have all the energy you need to keep on writing!
*Do writing excercises. Doing a few writing prompts/excersises can help waken your mind and help to find your voice. Every workout should include a warm-up and a cool down. Simarly, warming up your words will help your writing not to turn out so strained.

So open your laptop, make yourself some hot honey and lemon tea, take a few cough drops, and start typing away! Your writer's voice should be cured in no time.

"A writer's voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer's voice line the stroke of an artist's brush - is the thumbprint of her whole person - her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms."~Patricia Lee Gauch


  1. Hi Tessa

    I just wanted to thank you for your recent comments on my blog. Your comments are always welcome.

    I didn't see an email on available on your profile or I would have thanked you by email?

    God bless you and keep up the good work for Jesus


  2. I love this, Tessa! If we're not careful we can loose that oh-so-important writer's voice, so I think it's important to stay 'healthy' when it comes to writing :) Write every day, improve as much as we can, as Christian writers, ask God for help and to show us what to write (it may sound weird, but I try to pray before writing every day. I never want to write something that's unpleasing to God, and I never want pride or insecurity to get in the way), and to not overdo. Take a break once in awhile.

  3. Hi tessa! Thanks for your comment :) It makes ME happy to know that we are in the same boat! I was reading your profile, and we have some things in common! I LOVE Anna of Green Gables- my whole family loves it! (Well, the girls...) I also love the Christy Miller books :) I haven't read the whole series, but I really need to! Anyways, thanks for your blog and the encouragement it brings!! -Andrea

  4. Oh and, I LOVE ACTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  5. You know every time I read your posts, I wonder how it's possible that you're so young.

    Claire Dawn

  6. i can't believe much im like you. i want to be an author for Christ when i grow up. i know i can write now, but i figure i should wait until im a bit older before i take on the task of writing a novel just so it wouldn't seem strange for a seventeen year old to write about those things you know?

  7. Great post. Our own unique voice can be our greatest asset as long as we're utilizing it and applying it in the right place. Sometimes I think that's one of the hardest things to do in writing.

  8. Hi Tessa -

    I popped over here from Facebook, and signed up as a Follower.

    Excellent analogy!

    Susan :)

  9. Great post, Tessa. Really good points -- Voice is a tricky thing to find sometimes. Or always. ;)

  10. Mia: Yes! I think it's very important to pray before writing, because as I've mentioned in previous posts, our words can either support the Kingdom of God or weaken it. Thanks for your comment!

    Andrea: I know! I haven't read the Anne of Green Gables, but I've watched the series, and I love them. Robin Jones Gunn (author of Christy Miller series) is my favorite author. Thanks so much for your comment! I love your blog. If you have a Facebook, you can email me at CHRISTISWRITE at GMAIL dot COM and let me know our url. :)

    Claire Dawn: Thanks, Claire! I think writing is something anyone can learn and pursue, just like playing an instrument. All it takes is passion and perserverance.

    KATH: The only reason I'm trying to really pursue writing now is because it's honestly all I want to do. Why wait? Of course, it's different for everyone. Learning the craft of writing takes years alone, which is why I'm trying to learn as a teen so I don't have to use years after college trying to learn. :) Like I said to Claire Dawn, writing is like playing an instrument. The older you get the more advanced you'll probably become in the skill, but if you have the gift, why not go ahead and start learning? Thanks for your comment!

    Cindy: Very true. It's hard for me to keep my writing voice consistant, especially at the times when the words won't exactly flow. I've also been told by my mentor at Christian Writer's Guild that my writing voice is too formal. Like you said, our unique voice can be our greatest asset, as long as we're using it accurately.

    Susan: Thank you! I'll be sure to follow you back. God bless :)

    Kris: I'm sure every author or aspiring author has a hard time with their voice. The more you write, though, the more naturally it will probably become. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Hi Tessa-

    I just wanted to let you know that I referred to this article in my blog today:

    Great job!


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