Unleashing Your Writing Voice:
How to Write Confidently
Table of Contents
You might not hear this from many writers nowadays, but I’d like to share a little secret with you: most of my writing skills are self-taught.
If you’d like to go snooping around my work to try and pick apart my faults now that you know this very vulnerable side of me, you are more than welcome. Because if you’re wondering how I managed to learn how to write by myself and make a living out of it, then I can save you the trouble and tell you that snooping around was exactly what I did.
But let me backtrack a little bit.
Writing is a skill that can be honed through many different methods, including formal education (of course) or self-teaching. In my experience, I’ve been reading since I was twelve, and naturally, it came to a point where I simply wanted to write.
I wanted to use the words like the books in my room did.
So, I read, and I watched, and I picked apart sentences, metaphors, and analogies. I took my imaginary tweezers and dug into books, articles, and blogs trying to reverse-engineer the art of writing.
And you could say I kind of did. But it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I struggled to be confident when writing. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I second-guessed every sentence. I double-checked every fact. I didn’t allow myself to be too straight-forward. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“Don’t be too direct, don’t be too soft. Don’t use big words, don’t make them too simple. Don’t mention this, mention that.” Needless to say, I was not kind to myself.
And once I had the hang of the technical part, another issue came along.
My writing voice.
Oh, yes, you’ve heard that quite a lot, haven’t you? Everyone who’s tried their hand at this craft, sooner or later, struggles with finding their writing voice. And for good reason: it is the most important thing a writer can have.
This is the skill that has taken me the longest to master, and every day that I sit down in front of a blank page, I realize still how much I have to learn.
In my experience, I struggled to strike the right balance. I wanted to be direct, but still subtle. I wanted to write clever analogies, but still communicate clearly. I wanted the reader to feel the authenticity in my words, instead of them feeling like a re-used script.
But it wasn’t until I spent months chasing perfection, that I discovered that writing is a reflection of the writer, and my lack of confidence in my skills was the one thing holding me back. This epiphany became a turning point for me.
If you’re at the same spot I was years ago – struggling to find your voice so you can stop sounding so stiff and get people to resonate with you – I have a few shortcuts for you that I would’ve loved to know back then.
This is the number one mistake most young writers make: you want to use big words that will make you seem smarter, but here’s the thing: writing is not about you.
Writing is about the reader. The sole purpose of writing down words is for someone else to read them, understand them, and perform an action based on them. It doesn’t matter if the action is just sighing, thinking, or giggling. The one thing that matters is that they understand them.
And what’s better to make someone understand you than to have a simple conversation? Use words that come naturally to you. Avoid forcing your writing style or using vocabulary that feels too out of reach. Let your words flow effortlessly, capturing the essence of how you would express yourself if you were face to face with the reader.
My dad had a saying he repeated often: don’t say words you wouldn’t want to swallow later.
Yes, he was an explicit man with non-existent tact, but he had a point. This same principle applies to writing. No matter what you’re writing, or who’s going to read it: write with integrity. Express ideas that resonate with who you are and what you stand for. Authenticity breeds confidence, which will help you write boldly and avoid second-guessing your words like I did all the time. Plus, the reader will appreciate your honesty. It helps you connect with your readers, which in turn, helps them remember you.
Embrace your thing:
Most of the mistakes I made when I first started as a self-taught writer was try to sound like someone who was already successful. I would double-check every sentence to see if it resembled someone else’s, and not only was it draining, it took the fun out of writing.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your words. Inject your true voice, humor, and even your personal stories to connect with readers on a deeper level. We might be living different lives, but we can empathize with one another. Once you let your personality shine through, you’ll feel inspiration sneaking in to help you push it forward.
Don’t stop writing:
Another one of my terrible mistakes? I used to treat writing practice like I did exercise: doing it every once in a while, and hoping my muscles would remember the movements.
But writing, like any skill in this world, improves with practice, and nothing else but practice. My advice? Set aside some time each day to write, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Even if you have nothing to write about. Just sit down and write something. Experiment with different styles, and challenge yourself as you go.
Sooner rather than later, your voice will flow out of you.
Building confidence in writing is a journey that requires patience, self-reflection, and consistent practice. You cannot skip steps, or copy your way into finding your style, in the same way that you cannot run a marathon in someone else’s shoes (terrible image, I know, but stay with me). Trying to write with someone else’s voice is the same thing as imitating the way someone speaks: you might get good at it with practice, but it will never feel like you.