Aug 14, 2019

It’s often said that to find your writing voice, you have to write the way you speak. But the way you speak to whom?

It helps to think that you are having a conversation with a specific person as that can pare down who you are talking to. Jumbled writing is often the result of having many conversations with many different people at once. You write one sentence for one member of your audience and follow that up with another sentence for someone else. Such writing is not only hard to read, it’s actually hard to write simply because it’s hard to find a consistent train of thought that can satisfy many minds.

As tempting as it is to try to please many people, it unnecessarily complicates the writing process. Imagining a multitude of people who are interested in what you have to say is a quick way to lose track of what you want to say in the first place. Like a servant with many masters, you have to cater to each reader’s particular whims. Your thoughts become disorganized as you imagine each of these people coming up with different objections to your points. If you simply wrote as if you were talking to one person, then your thoughts would be more consistent, and as a result, more coherent.

In the past, most of the best thoughts came from the private correspondences between two people. When you are writing a letter to just one person, it is much easier to stick to your normal voice. If you imagine yourself speaking to someone that you are on familiar terms with, then your writing voice will be much more personal. If it is someone you are less familiar with, then your writing will be more formal. In either case, if you stick to speaking only with that person, your voice will likely be true with the added benefit that your thoughts will flow more easily.

Perhaps personal correspondence is a trick that can also be employed by modern day writers. Instead of writing to a general audience, simply write an email to a friend about the topic. When you are done writing that email, you should have your first draft. The nice thing about this method is that you can just hit send and get your draft reviewed as a bonus. This assumes that they are willing and have the time, of course; which they should if they are a true friend 😉.