Ali Luke is on a virtual book tour for her novel, Lycopolis, and she wants to talk to you about the importance of writing what you love in your own voice. Important stuff!
Do you feel like you haven’t quite found your writing voice?
There are plenty of technically good writers whose words seem to fall a little flat – and plenty of writers whose grammar and spelling isn’t quite top-notch, but whose words grip the reader all the same.
Voice is that hard-to-pin-down quality that makes your writing come alive. It’s not something you can impose on your writing (though you can practice using different voices). It needs to come from who you are – from the heart.
And the best way to write from the heart is to:
Write What You Care About
Many writers don’t have the freedom to pour words out on whatever topic they choose. You could be in a situation where, frankly, most of your writing is on something you don’t truly care about – you’re providing freelance services, or you’re writing as part of your day job.
But even if you can find just a little bit of time each week to write something from the heart, this will make a difference. You could write:
- A blog where you write about something that really matters to you
- The novel you’ve been thinking about for years
- Poetry that captures your unique take on the world around you
This sort of writing brings you alive. You’ll get a sense of flow as you write – you might even lose track of time. Instead of struggling through each sentence, you’ll find that the words come more easily.
But What About the Money?
Perhaps you’ve chosen to write on particular topics because you know they can make you money – like celebrity gossip or fashion or gadgets or weight loss. But how much are you really going to make if you burn out on writing after a few months?
Writers can and do make money by working on something that they love. Pace and Kyeli blog about changing the world. I blog about writing. Self-publishing novelists like Amanda Hocking have been very successful writing fiction that they love, and releasing it in Kindle form.
(Writing generally isn’t a quick path to fame and fortune, though. Yes, you can make a living – but I wouldn’t advise you to try doing so unless they write, first and foremost, because you love it.)
But What if People Don’t Like It?
It can be really scary to write a piece that you’re fully committed to. If you’re used to dashing off blog posts or essays or newsletter items, you might find it tough to put something of yourself onto the page. After all, if people don’t like that post you spent ten minutes on and only wrote for the search engines, you’re probably not going to feel too bad … but if you get negative comments on a post where you poured out your soul, you might be really upset.
One way to get round this is to write in a journal that’s for your eyes only. You can be as outspoken or passionate or funny or dramatic as you want – and no-one but you ever needs to see it, until you’re ready.
But at some stage, you’ll want to put your writing out there in front of an audience. That is hard, but it’s also immensely rewarding. I find that the pieces I’m most unsure about – the ones that felt a bit too personal, or experimental – almost always get a very positive response.
Where to Start Today
Even if you only have five minutes, that’s long enough to write. You could:
- Write about something that makes you angry. Perhaps that’s economic injustice, or pollution, or intolerance.
- Write about something that you love. Perhaps that’s your children, or your partner, or a hobby.
- Start on a story that you’ve been thinking about for months (or years).
- Write the one message that you want – need – to share with the world.
(And leave a comment below to let us know how you get on…)
Ali Luke is currently on a virtual book tour for her novel Lycopolis, a fast-paced supernatural thriller centered on a group of online roleplayers who summon a demon into their game and into the world. Described by readers as “a fast and furious, addictive piece of escapism” and “absolutely gripping”, Lycopolis is available in print and e-book form. Find out more at www.lycopolis.co.uk.