Adapt Your Voice to Expand Your Writing Opportunities

Adapt your Writer's VoiceMany beginning writers hear the term “voice,” as in, “finding your writer’s voice” but aren’t sure what it means. “Voice” is the words we choose, as well as our sentence structure, the cadence of how the words fit together.

When people speak, we may have an accent or speak in a particular dialect of our native language. We also have speech patterns, slang phrases we use, and favorite expressions. These are often influenced by the area we live, our age/generation, our socioeconomic status, and possibly even what we do for a living. (Language directly influenced by our industry is sometimes called “jargon.”)

In writing, all of these things together form a “writer’s voice.” Many of us write the way we talk. But some writers are adept at adopting different voices. If you can write in a variety of voices, you can expand your writing opportunities to include:

  • Writing in a variety of fields and industries
  • Writing for the web, print, television or radio
  • Ghostwriting
  • Making $1/word or more writing for glossy national publications or trade journal

How to Recognize Other Voices

The first step to learning how to write in different voices, is learning how to recognize different voices — and what creates them — when you read. For instance, corporate writing adopts a more formal style. Blogs can be casual, fun or newsy, depending on the audience. Sales and marketing copy has a conversational style designed to draw in — and convince — readers.

To begin to pick up the cadence of different writing voices, read widely. Read everything. (Where have you heard that writing advice before? Everywhere, I’m guessing!) After you read something in a unique, distinctive voice, sit down and write something using that voice.

“Finding Someone Else’s Voice”

Writing in a different voice often requires more extensive rewriting. The first words that come out of our minds and onto our computer screen are usually our “natural” writing voice. In many cases, this is also the way we speak. (If you ever hear me give a webinar, you’ll recognize that I write these blog posts in my “teaching voice,” and I speak pretty much the same way when I’m teaching someone about writing.)

To write in a different voice, consider all the different ways you can say the same thing. Use words not in your normal lexicon. Vary your techniques and your sentence structure.

If you are ghostwriting, the best thing to do is to read everything you can that person has written. The same goes for submitting queries or articles to major magazines. You want to make that “voice” part of your mind, so you can hear it in your own thought patterns. You should begin thinking like your client, or like the writers of the magazine you want to write for. When you start to think like your client or your magazine’s market, you’ll start to write in a way they can relate to, naturally.

Take the Writing Voice Challenge

Here’s an exercise for you. Take a recent article or blog post you have written and rewrite it:

  • In the voice of your favorite author
  • As sales copy
  • As a corporate communication
  • As an email to a friend

After you do this a few times, you’ll be close to an expert at adopting other voices, and then you don’t have to worry if you land an assignment that forces you to write in a voice different from your own writer’s voice. You can do it!

Feel free to share your examples below in the comments or tell us other ways you experiment with “voice” when you’re writing.

Published by

Dawn Allcot

A woman of diverse interests, Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her impressive client list includes Fortune 500 companies such as Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft and a variety of others, including ghostwriting for top names in many industries. Widely published in trade and consumer magazines, including Club Business International, Sound & Communications, Church Production Magazine and on Web sites such as Long Island Exchange and AllReviews.com, she makes it a point to continually expand her knowledge on all subjects. She currently serves as the Grammar Guide on the popular Freelance Writing Jobs Network. Always an entrepreneur and interested in every realm of the publishing business, Dawn launched her first publication while still in college. She went on to hold the title of Editor-in-Chief for Band & Orchestra Product News, a trade journal for music educators, as well as for Paintball Sports and RECON, internationally-distributed paintball magazines. Critically involved in the mid-90s launch of Long Island-based publisher Testa Communications’ Club Systems International, she brought her vast experience and broad knowledge to the project as an Executive Editor. With her extensive editorial background, Dawn has insight into an editor’s daily challenges, understands the importance of deadlines and editorial standards, and prides herself on exceeding editors’ expectations. Some of her niche markets include parenting, pregnancy and paintball, as well as health and fitness, home-based businesses and marketing, and technology. Dawn serves on the Advisory Board of the International Mastermind Group with other top authors, coaches and professionals in a myriad of fields, guiding and advising fledgling writers as they accomplish their goals. With a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics and a willingness to share with others, Dawn has spearheaded, organized and moderated a variety of online writers’ workshops. Her desire to mentor young writers recently evolved into an interest in public speaking. To that end, she has joined Toastmasters to hone her speaking skills. When she’s not traveling the world in pursue of captivating stories, this multi-talented woman lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter and four useless, but lovable, cats. www.allcotmedia.com

2 thoughts on “Adapt Your Voice to Expand Your Writing Opportunities”

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