One Writer’s Writing Secrets 2: Finding your Voice

             I just finished rereading Huckleberry Finn, so if I break out in a twang, please bear with me.  (I ain’t agwyne do’t if I can hep it).  Dialect is a bear, and not recommended – unless it is who you are, and you know the dialect like the proverbial back of your hand (and your spelling is consistent).

            Allow me to share a bit of family folklore that floated down to me from my writer brother in Alaska.  It concerns a person named Tom (not Sawyer, but of the same type as I hear tell), though how true the story is, I cannot say.

            Tom went to the University of Michigan for one semester where he had a Freshman English professor who said something like this:

            “Tom.  You have a wonderful voice when you speak.  It is lively and very different from the dry papers you have been turning in.  You know, I believe you have the potential to be a good writer, but you have to stop trying to write the way you think it is supposed to be written.  Instead, I want you to try writing in a way that is most natural to you.  That is the secret to good writing.  Try writing the way you talk and it will be much better.”

            Now, Tom decided that was good advice; but if his best writing was simply writing the way he talked, and since he already knew how to talk, he also decided there was no more to be learned from that institution; so he dropped out and wandered his way up to Alaska where he took a job hosting a national radio show for NPR and writing just the way he talked, and though I don’t want to give everything away, the end of the story is if you ever go traveling across this country, I am sure he will “leave a light on for ya.”


Writing Tip 2: 

For most of us our talk can get pretty sloppy and might not be a good guide, but on principle, don’t worry about the way good writing is supposed to be writ!  Write the way that is most natural and comfortable for you.  That is your voice, and it will invariably be much better than imitating someone else.

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