3 ways to make your writing sound natural
There is much talk in the world of writers about “finding your voice.” Most will tell you that the best way to discover and develop yours is to write a lot. There is definitely truth to this advice; you certainly won’t develop a distinct writing voice if you never write! This advice is overly simplistic though. While writing a lot will probably lead to finding a natural-sounding voice eventually, there are ways to deliberately seek out that voice, and being deliberate will help you develop your voice rapidly.
Read your writing out loud.
Take something you have written and read it out loud to yourself. Notice any awkward phrasing and think about how you would changing the wording if you were speaking to someone. Adjust the writing to reflect the natural cadence of conversation. Eventually people who have heard you speak will be able to literally hear your voice in their head when reading what you have written.
Write to a young person in your life.
Practice clarity and simplicity by writing directly to a young person. Think of someone you know personally. Rather than choosing a topic specifically for him, write about whatever you would be writing anyway. Imagine he has wandered up to you asked, “Watcha doin’?” Explain your topic in simpler terms, the way you would if he were standing in front of you.
Experiment: Dictate. Write by hand. Try random prompts.
Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result is literally crazy. If you are struggling to find your natural voice, simply writing more won’t help. Branch out and explore. If you are discouraged because you can’t find an exercise that does work, focus on figuring out what doesn’t work. As Thomas Edison allegedly said,
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Try techniques that feel uncomfortable. Follow prompts that seem weird. Write every day, but write differently every day. Use a course like Sean McCabe’s 30 Days to Better Writing or google writing prompts. Get outside of your comfort zone and let yourself play.
Yes, write a lot, but don’t write just to say you have; write with a purpose.