The Bookish Fox

How I “Got” My Writing Voice

I am frequently asked about how I got my writing voice for this blog. They tend to ask me how my voice is so different from all the other editors out there or how do I make it so funny and conversational. In particular, people ask how I squeeze so many pop culture references in a post. I always am tempted to say: “I ordered it on Amazon. I got a really killer deal on it.” If I am in a particularly nostalgic mood, I want to say: “I made a deal with a little mermaid to get it.”

In all seriousness though, I am not sure a voice is something you “get.” I think it is something you discover and develop. While, yes, my voice here is adapted for the medium of writing, I really do sound like this in real life. Really. A guy I dated once said that being around me was like watching an episode Gilmore Girls.

It was one of the greatest compliments of my life.

This is really my sense of humor. I am known to make random pop culture references, and my friends would tell you that my writing here is pretty close to the way I speak. The only thing that is different here is that I don’t say “live your best life” every five seconds (yes, I say it a lot in my daily conversation).

So how do you capture your conversational voice in writing for your blog or writing project?

I have a few tips for you!

1. Break the academic voice.

After being in academia for so long, my greatest struggle was to break the really bad writing habits that graduate school encourages. You know, the really long sentences with the fifty dollar words and the use of a colon in every single title. When you are writing so people will actually read your work, you can only afford five cent words. And forget the colons. Ain’t nobody want to see that in your blog post title (unless it is “Corgi Puppies: A Post in Pictures”).

2. Write to a friend.

I am always imagining a friend when I write my blog posts. It keeps me honest. You don’t want to get a reply from your friends asking if you the bodysnatchers got you because you are suddenly writing like Harold Bloom.

3. Tape yourself.

Tape yourself when you speak. I know, this is a horrifying ask. I HATE the sound of my voice played back. I wonder how anyone can be in my presence for more than five seconds. But listening to your conversations helps you discover what you sound like when you speak.

4. Write a lot. All the time. 

Writing for this blog and Quirk Books is the best thing that had ever happened to me. Both blogs forced me to write several times a week for an audience that craved a conversational, witty style. After doing this for about a year, I had my voice nailed.

5. Edit, edit, edit. 

When you are editing your writing, ask yourself: “Would I say this in real life?” If the answer is “no,” cut it.

And that is how you get your voice. See? No underwater contracts required!

Do you feel like you know your writing voice? How did you develop it? Tell me in the comments below!

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