How I Found My Writing Voice and How You Can Find Yours
A Metaphor Involving Sandwiches
In a writer’s journey, there is always a point we reach where we begin to really develop our own identify within our writing. Either we develop it on our own in experience, by chance, or we discover something just doesn’t feel right. Our writing is not genuine, we don’t feel like ourselves, or it’s stilted and mechanical — feeling more like a “I have to write” versus “I want to write.”
If you feel that way, you might be lacking your voice.
Your voice is SO critical in your success as a writer. This is what every single writer searches for — a way we can write that makes us unique! Because that’s what your voice is, it’s your own uniqueness.
Dr. Seuss once said:
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
Okay… Well then how do we develop it?
I honestly like to think of my completed writing as a sandwich (bear with me here).
The bread is the same kind depending on my personal choice of interface. What I mean by this is that the bread represents the platform in which I’m writing. This could be a personal blog, a journal, Medium, or a Word document on my computer. This is the vessel that carries the bulk of my art, therefore it is the bread.
It holds everything together.
For the purpose of this metaphor, I’m going to dive all the way in and say that Medium is my favorite kind of bread. Medium is San Francisco sourdough.
Still with me?
Whatever your “voice” is, that’s the what’s between the two slices.
Do you have honey and peanut butter? Classic turkey and cheese? Banana and peanut butter? Ham and cheese? Meatball and provolone? Nutella? Butter and cinnamon sugar? Are you a grilled cheese?
If you are considering my inquiry and you cannot provide an answer, it’s probably because you haven’t fully developed your voice yet.
And that is OKAY!
I didn’t even know what my voice was or how I would find it until one day I posted an article and realized I had it. I was reaffirmed by that because that post went viral on Medium, literally making me a Top Writer overnight.
So, without further ado, let’s find out what’s between your slices.
Here’s a few pointers to get you into developing and furthering your voice if you feel like you just haven’t found it yet.
Let’s build this dang sandwich.
Think of your writing as an extension of a conversation.
Add your isms. Add your terminology. PLEASE add your dad jokes. Literally talk to the blog post like you’re talking to a friend. The biggest reason your writing feels mechanical and stilted is because it is. It’s not you. So when you read it, it probably sounds fake.
Your audience reads it that way it too.
When you’re not writing as your genuine self, it definitely comes through. Believe me. And other writers can recognize that faster than Spider-Man’s senses can alert him.
If you’re fake in your writing, your pages bleed falseness. The language is almost uncomfortable. And it can be uncomfortable to read as well as write.
One of the quickest ways to find your voice is to use your real voice.
Think of this as the protein of your sandwich. Every single kind of sandwich typically has a protein. Being yourself is the critical element, the protein.
For me, I would say my protein resembles smoked turkey.
Write about what you want to write about, if only just for a little while.
Don’t worry about wondering what others might want you to write. Finding your writing voice is an exploration of self, and needs to be done on your own. You can think about an audience later.
An audience isn’t important right now anyway, because an audience will come naturally as you develop your voice. Genuine writing will bring genuine fans, but you need to find the genuine portion first.
Writing about what you want to write about also provides you the comfort of knowing your stuff. You’re also more likely to find your voice faster because you’re immersing yourself in subjects that interest you.
You’re comfortable. You’re yourself.
At some point you may need to branch out into other kinds of topics to discover if you’re successful in other areas, but when you’re trying to discover your voice this step is crucial. Writing about what you want to write about gives you a starting point, a home base, a safe zone that you can always return to before you go back out and explore your limits.
Don’t be afraid to write posts that “suck.”
Fear is legitimately a writer’s biggest downfall. It keeps us from moving forward, growing, taking the leap, and ultimately it prevents us from obtaining success in the field.
“What if no one likes what I write?”
“What if I don’t build an audience?”
“What will others think?”
In finding your voice, I promise you, you will write a lot of posts that suck. Those questions that are nagging you? Ignore them. Right now they aren’t important. You’re on a mission to build your sandwich, you’re not taking special requests.
Along your journey you will write posts that aren’t your favorite but others love. You will write posts that are small but get the biggest attention. You will spend hours writing amazing posts with every single ounce of your voice, and only get 3 claps.
Don’t be afraid to write posts that may “suck” because in the long run, you’re improving your writing skills, building your voice, and creating a foundation of confidence and trust in yourself that you know what you’re doing.
You will learn by failing.
I’ll give you an example.
I spent hours putting my heart and soul into a post about how I provide feedback to my students. I posted it a handful of days ago and at this moment it has only 14 claps. By popularity standards, it “sucks.” But I didn’t think it sucks because I spent serious time pouring my heart and soul into it!
That’s all that matters.
That’s what makes your sandwich yours.
When you’ve found a vein you enjoy and others seem to enjoy too, milk that vein for everything it’s worth.
If you find that posts about underwater basket weaving are popular for you, write every single thing you can about underwater basket weaving.
Every. Single. Nuance.
I currently became a Top Writer in Education. When I found out that this was where I was really progressing, I sat down with a notepad and my favorite Zebra pen, and I wrote down all the topics that went with Education.
I wrote down things like:
- Classroom Management
- Multiple Intelligences
- Providing Good Feedback
- Errors In Our Education System
- Education In The News
You get the idea.
I wrote down a list of possible posts so I’m prepared with material in the future. If this is working well for me, I enjoy the topic, and I’m well-versed in this matter… Why not write about every single facet?
Well, I’m going to. Because this is my sandwich.
The whole point I’m trying to make in building a sandwich is to show you that you are making a meal with your writing. You should be sustaining others appetites for knowledge with your sandwich.
Explore your current abilities, discover your unique kind of sandwich, love what you write, practice your skills, respect the process, express yourself, and work on feeding your audience.
It’s time to get to work.
And in case you were wondering, my sandwich is mesquite smoked turkey with avocado slices and cheddar jack cheese, shredded lettuce, and mayo all on toasted slices of San Francisco sourdough.
Thank you for your time, your support, and for being a part of my journey!
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I recently went to a non fiction writing conference, I traveled all the way to Pittsburgh from Scio, OR for three days…medium.com