How To Find Your Voice

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Jenny Coyle on how to write (hint: just do it)

I’m a writer, which is as inevitable to me as being right-handed and curly-haired. The fact that I earn my living from words is a fantastic bonus. I’d keep on writing even if no-one ever read a word of it again.

As a writer, I’ve blogged, reviewed, ghosted, scripted, translated, tweeted and tweaked words for lots of big companies. It’s up to me to find the very best way to showcase through words what each brand is trying to say. On a daily basis, that means switching gears between warm and friendly (fruity drinks), polished and driven (a law firm) and helpful-slash-expert (dog flea powder).

Then of course there’s the latest novel begging for some attention, my outpourings of parental frustration and opinions for – and any number of other wordy projects that I have on the go. Still, whatever the topic, whoever the audience, I’m happy if I can get them to sound like me. To know that I’ve arranged all those letters and words in the very best way that I can.

Finding your voice as a writer is a whole life’s work – and once you’ve found it, it’s likely gone again. Read any of the great novelists’ work, for example, and you’ll spot the works where the words sizzle and hop with exuberance off the page, and the books where the magic just wasn’t happening. No matter.

Finding, losing, grasping or hanging on for dear life to your writer’s voice means writing, writing and writing enough so that you know when you hit your sweet spot. Hitting that elusive flow – whether it’s writing your wedding vows, or nailing the best way to sell scampi – feels a bit like Usain Bolt lolloping past the finishing line. Easy, smooth – like flying when you’re dreaming. Next time, you try and it’s more like the three-legged race on Sports Day. But like someone wise once said, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Feeling like you’d sooner extract your own teeth than hit the keyboard today? Can I recommend a deadline? Feeling uninspired? Read a great writer.  And if all else fails, just sit there and write until you find that flow again.

Our columnist Jenny Coyle wrote one of the first blogs we became addicted to back in the late noughties. London Media Whore detailed her pre-marriage, pre-parenting escapades as an Irish girl working in media in London. She is also on our panel of judges for the Blog Awards. Enter here.


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