The easy, but probably not terribly helpful, answer is just to say “relax, be yourself and your voice will come”.
Eventually, it will, but meantime, a new blogger can easily be discouraged by the supreme effort that all this “relaxing” can take. And how on earth can you be yourself in a whole new world you’re very uncertain of?
In truth, we have a great many voices. Just as we talk to our children, customers, bosses, spouses and dogs each in a slightly different way so we write differently depending on what we are doing and where we are doing it.
I didn’t think I had any difficulty in finding my voice, although when I look back at the early posts it’s clear I took quite some time to virtually clear my throat.
I wasn’t confident that what made me laugh would translate for others and I still hadn’t escaped from the rigid formulas of journalistic or corporate writing.
At first, it’s a bit difficult to hear your own voice amid the yelling of the more strident and the booming of the confident.
Equally, ‘voice’ is something that you can’t strive for or pick off the self. Not an authentic voice any way. You’d only end up with something that wasn’t comfortable in the long run and didn’t sound like you.
So until the day that you suddenly realise you know exactly what you sound like the best thing to do is to follow some basic writing guidelines and, yes, to relax. It will come.
George Orwell, who I’m certain would be a blogger if he were alive, wrote an essay in 1946 called Politics and the English Language.
In it, he listed the following rules:
- Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
And, of course, his sixth rule.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
These alone will lift your writing out from the crowd and give you the space to recognise what your individual style is.
Writing, like anything other skill, takes practice. The notion that there’s a creative genius curled up snoozing inside us all is a bit misleading. I’m sure there is, but, certainly in my case, it’s a very flabby and weedy one.
Therefore, don’t fret too much about the quality of your writing or reach too far to be clever, just do it.
Write your own thoughts in the manner that comes easily – even say the words out loud if it helps.
Only write and keep writing and, sure enough, you – and everyone else – will know your voice.