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Finding Your Voice—and Why It Matters

What is your "voice as a writer?" And what exactly does a certain tough-as-nails British vocal judge have to say about it? According to Julie Wildhaber, your voice “the distinct personality, style, or point of view of a piece of writing or any other creative work. Voice is what Simon Cowell is talking about when he tells American Idol contestants to make a song their own.”

Your voice should be strong, consistently used, and tell the reader exactly who you are as a writer. In addition, it should fit the type of work where it is featured. For example, you would have a significantly different voice when writing an academic piece for a highly respected journal than you would have as a lifestyle blogger. Your voice needs to grab the reader’s attention and engage them in relationship with you.

Where do you start with creating your voice?

Start first with how YOU want to be perceived: What do you want your readers to know about you? Are you warm and nurturing? Inspiring and courageous? Or sarcastic with a quick wit?

Next, consider who YOUR READERS are, as your target audience will largely determine your voice. With teenagers, you may choose to use a voice incorporating some slang. When speaking to business leaders, you would use a professional voice—perhaps with a bit of appropriate humor sprinkled throughout.

Finally, consider the PURPOSE of your writing: Is it meant to inform, entertain, or motivate readers to take action? With the right voice, your writing will just “feel right” to the reader and they are less likely to get frustrated or simply stop reading. When you use the appropriate voice, you will also resonate with your reader, build your audience, and maybe even sell more articles and books!

Keep writing until you find your voice, and, as Simon Cowell always says, “make it your own.”

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