5 Ways to Find Your Writing Voice

Take time to identify your audience, motives, and goals for writing in order to achieve your most authentic writing voice.

1. Be Authentic

Good writing is honest writing. If you want to find an engaging writing voice that will resonate with others, you have to be yourself. Not a funny guy? Then don’t force jokes. Don’t use jargon in writing you don’t normally use when speaking (especially if you don’t even know what it means). Trust me – saying what you mean in the clearest, simplest terms is the best way to be understood by your reader. And when people understand your first few sentences, they are more inclined to read on.

Honest writing also means being authentic about your personal experiences, when and if appropriate. For example, on my college and graduate school consulting blog, I share stories about how I overcame a debilitating fear of public speaking in college or mistakes I made in the classroom that I needed to correct to earn a professor’s respect. My student readers tend to respond favorably to these stories; they demonstrate that I dealt with and overcame problems similar to what they might be struggling with right now.

However, you want to be honest without being overly confessional. Meaning, I never wrote about my pregnancy or the birth of my first child on my professional blog, or my feelings about the intersection between new motherhood, maintaining my professional identity, and how the two converged to impact my sense of self-worth. Those reflections went on my personal writing website, which I do not cross-promote on my business blog.

2. Know Your Audience


You can’t find your authentic voice without knowing who you are writing for. Who is your targeted audience? There are two ways to determine who comprises your readership. You can pick a discrete swath of the population and tailor your topics, tone, and style to your readers’ interests.

For example, someone who is trying to establish herself as a cooking expert might launch a blog with recipes, tips, and stories about what memories certain dishes evoke for her. Meanwhile, a copywriter who is attempting to win more clients might post book reviews, writing prompts, or advice for improving your written communication skills. In this case, the experience is established by giving away some information, while simultaneously demonstrating his potential value to readers who need a copywriter’s assistance.

However, you can also let the readers come to you if you write what you want to write about – whether that is how to finish a book, restoring old furniture, your experiences as a stay-at-home parent, or DIY home improvement projects. The right readers will organically find you.

Whether you are intentionally pursuing a certain audience, decide who you are addressing with your writing.

3. What’s Your Motive?

Figuring out your audience goes hand-in-hand with understanding your motive for writing.

  • Are you writing for fun, to make a small amount of money, or to earn a full income?
  • Are you working for yourself or for someone else?
  • Do you enjoy what you’re writing?

If you are writing for yourself, you need to be motivated to blog regularly, finish a novel, or contribute to a scholarly journal. Pick a topic that engages you, and readers will follow.

Often a writer’s motive is earning a paycheck (and nothing wrong with that!).

However, if you aren’t particularly interested in the assigned topic, your apathy will likely come through in your content. Find a way to make the assignment more interesting for you (approach the topic from a unique or unexpected angle, interview people in the field, or do some research on the history of your subject). Both the person paying you and his readers will thank you.

4. How Does It Serve Your Overall Goal?

This point asks you to get even more specific about your motive. What kind of writer are you? How are you using your writing to further your professional agenda or personal mission? Are you trying to “brand” yourself through your writing?

These days, first impressions are often through the written word, rather than face-to-face meetings or even by phone. How do you want to represent yourself?

On my education consulting website, I stick to formal language, with website copy and blog posts following a straightforward formula of describing a problem experienced by many college and graduate students and then offering concrete steps to resolving it. Readers need to know that if they pay me for my services, I can help them identify the obstacle(s), assist them in defining their goals, and provide a detailed roadmap to achieving their objective.

However, on my personal writing website, I allow myself to write about whatever I want. There is always a point, but they are reflections on what’s going on in my life. I do not follow any specific formula, use a much more informal voice, include pictures of my family, and post only when I want. In this case, my agenda is to simply present myself as a writer and feature examples of my work.

My Absolute Favorites

Today I thought that since you know almost nothing about me, I'll write a little about my favorite stuff. I've decided to pick one book, one TV show and one song that have been my absolute favorites for the last six months.

1) Books

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

I have a confession to make. I've picked this one not just because of the exciting plot, vivid characters and unexpected twists. I loved the actual BOOK - the printed London Green Penguin edition with original illustrations by Quentin Blake. Everything about it is great - I love how the pages smell, the paper feels and also the fact that it has some fun bonus features like what Roald Dahl's writing place looked like and how he was addicted to chocolate.

Now for the story. It actually is a tale for kids until it's not. If I read it as a child, I'm a 100% sure I would get scared at some parts. A fat kid gets sucked out of the chocolate river into a pipe going God knows where. Will he get out alive? No one knows. And oompa lumpas - the weird midget workers at the factory start singing a song saying the kid's earned it. Creepy, right? Some crazy stuff happens to other 3 kids, and only Charlie is "unchanged" by the end of the book.

The story has a straight message: don't eat too much, don't watch TV all day long, don't chew gum for too long, and don't think you'll get everything you want from your parents. The moral is simple, the story itself is pretty much simple, too. So what is it, that makes this book so appealing? The atmosphere of magic, adventure, and suspence! The letter from Willy Wonka to the Golden Ticket winners started like this: "Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you!" This is pretty much the book description: this magic world of the chocolate factory is so unexpected!

2) Songs

Crazy On You
For the last year or so, I've been picking up new music from movies, TV series, commercials, etc. So about three months ago I was watching the trailer for the new Jake Gyllenhaal movie "Demolition", and there it was - "Crazy On You" by Heart. I fell in love with it from the first couple of chords. It was just so energetic and so freeing. Whenever I was listening to it, it somehow appealed to me, whatever the mood I was in.

The song has everything I need from it musically: an intriguing intro, a racing rhythm and a simple, but great bass line [though I'm not sure whether it's bass or guitar]. And then there are these hysterical and powerful vocals. Anyway, the song somehow gets me still after three months of listening. What can I say - not many do the same.

3) TV Series

The Americans 

I try not to pick TV series with more than one season lately, but after I watched a couple episodes of "The Americans", I thought I'll give this one a try. Good thing is, I never binge-watched it, kept it to 1 episode every two days, maybe a couple through the weekend. But that doesn't mean it was not good enough. It was a great show.

Two young KGB agents come to the US during the Cold War, fit in, raise two kids and lead a normal American life. Except the fact that they don't. They have to complete lots of dangerous missions the Center puts them on. And meanwhile, they lie to their kids, to their neighbor who's an FBI agent and to their employer - a traveling agency.

The creator of the show is a former CIA agent. I think he actually knows a thing or two about the spies.

The show's not vanilla, it's actually brutally honest about both the KGB spies and the Americans. And I don't remember any of it being boring. What's also interesting, the main characters do develop throughout the story. They were incredibly patriotic in the beginning. Now they are exhausted and questioning the importance of the whole job that they do. It's 2 more seasons left - and I can't wait to see what happens next.

So here was my list of absolute favorites for these past six months. Please share yours in the comments.

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Writing Rules You Should Feel Free to Break

Many young writers look to their idols for advice on how to write well. And they will find plenty of it. Modern writers seem to have developed a lexicon of rules that labels some types of writing or even whole categories of grammar as “bad” and others as “good”.

The fact, for example, that the Hemingway app exists, where writers can put their writing through the lens of a virtual Hemingway and have their work analyzed according to his values as a writer, proves the point. The app checks your work for its simplicity, highlighting complex sentences, complex words, adverbs and passive voice so that you can eliminate those “errors”.

But where did we get this idea in the first place? That English writing has to be adverb-free and as to the point as possible?

For the rebel writer, here’s a list of these and other writing rules for you to break:


Yes, simplicity can be elegant. But does that mean that all writing should be so straightforward? What about writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez with his long, twisting story lines and constant side-tracking? Or Faulkner’s stream of consciousness sentences that sometimes took up an entire page? Or J.D. Salinger who also loved a long-winded phrase? Or this famous first sentence from Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of the noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
The fact that this book became a tome of English Literature proves the point that just because it’s not simple doesn’t mean it’s not great writing.


Many a writer has famously derided the use of adverbs. But it’s a curious practice to eliminate an entire grammatical area of your own language. Perhaps it’s time to embrace the adverb and its ability to describe essential information. Here are some words I bet you didn’t know were adverbs:
  • Before
  • After
  • Since
  • Seldom
  • Sometimes
  • Often
But those aren’t the adverbs some writers want to eliminate. These are:
  • Elegantly
  • Gently
  • Irritably
  • Courageously
  • Sadly
  • Foolishly
  • Gladly
All words can be used to gain the effect the author desires. Ask John Banville who won the Booker Prize for The Sea and who, by the way, used adverbs liberally throughout the book.

“Said” vs. All Other Forms of “Said”

Elmore Leonard famously declared (he would say “famously said”) that all dialogue should only be expressed with the word “said”. For example, you shouldn’t use “grumbled”, “whined”, “cursed”, “cried”, “swore”, “slurred”, “whispered”, “shouted” or any other word that could be replaced with “said”. The benefit of these other forms of “said” is that they can explain volumes about a character’s emotional state and complement the sentence they’re speaking. A simple example:
“Give me your gold or I’ll take it myself,” the giant growled.
Would it be as scary if he merely said it?

Avoid Repetition

Depending on the context, repetition of words or phrases can help to drive a point home or even be poignant. The phrase “And so it goes” appears throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five as a sort of punctuation for some of his most emotionally evocative scenes. This sentence from Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is a good example of how repetition can be used: “Clare takes my hand, and we stand together, in the crowd, and if there is a God, then God, let me just stand here quietly and inconspicuously, here and now, here and now.”

Sometimes rules are made to be broken and that’s especially true when it comes to writing. Explore the language with all of its adverbs, run-on sentences, repetitions and non-saids. See what happens. 

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How to Write Unexpected Plot Twists

Today I'd like to share some plot tricks when writing fiction. Enjoy!

Your readers pick up your book because they want to be swept away into your fantasy. In order to engage them, you need to keep them on their toes, wondering what will happen next. Unexpected plot twists are one of the best ways to pull your readers in and leave them yearning for more. This is how you can start writing perfectly executed plot twists for your stories.

First, Get the Creative Juices Flowing

As you begin any new aspect of your story, it’s a good idea to get the juices flowing with some creative writing exercises. This will help you get into the mindframe you need to let your inner imaginings out on paper. Free-writing and poetry are some easy exercises to put your brain in the mood for writing. Do whatever floats your boat just so that you don't have a writer's block. Remember, nobody has to see what you come up with, at this point, so ramble all you want, and feel free to ignore grammar (if you can). Then, you can move on to sculpting your plot twist.

Your Clues Need to Be Ambiguous

In order to effectively carry out a literary plot twist, you want readers to think, “Wow. How did I not see that coming?” In order for them to have the belief that they could have somehow picked up on the fact that this event would happen, there has to be clues leading up to it. The catch is that those clues can’t be obvious. If they are, your plot twist is not unexpected at all - as a matter of fact, it becomes expected. Ambiguity can help set the stage for the most head-spinning surprises.

Write ambiguous clues by making them have more than one possible outcome. As Rachel Sheller says, “eliminate the obvious.” Here’s an example:

The question is, ‘Who stole Mary’s drive with the secret files on it?”

Here are the suspects:

  • Mary’s partner, Steven, at the FBI.
  • Mary’s boss, John.
  • Mary’s sister, Helen.
  • Bob, The janitor at Mary’s office.
  • Mary’s 15 year old son, Hank.

Here are their possible motives:

  • Steven could potentially get a promotion by taking credit for solving the case with these files.
  • John has corporate connections who might have paid him to keep this information secret.
  • Helen has always been scared for Mary, in her line of work.
  • Bob has no known motive, but he was acting strange the last couple weeks.
  • Hank is the least likely suspect with no foreseeable motive.

Ambiguous Clues:

  • EVERYONE on the suspect list saw Mary in the afternoon on July 12, the day the drive disappeared.
  • Steven has the most reason to take the drive, BUT he and Mary have trusted each other for many years.

The two clues listed above leave the possible outcomes open, rather than being blatantly obvious.

Never Rule Out Every Possible Outcome

As your story moves along, more is revealed. Your clues will begin to rule out people and situations from particular, but you don’t want to rule out everything before you reveal the truth. As a matter of fact, at least two possible outcomes should still exist in the reader’s mind when you execute your plot twists. You can lean more in one direction than another, where potential is concerned, and even sway back and forth with your implications. Just make sure that you leave room for multiple outcomes so that the reveal has impact.

Get Inside the Reader’s Mind

If you didn’t know what would happen next, what would you be thinking? This is where you need to write from. Put yourself inside the mind of a potential reader, and explore their possible thoughts. Leave no room for the reader to guess what’s about to happen as you construct your scenes. Once you think you’ve covered all your bases, read everything again and check for hidden revelations.

Choose the Least Likely Scenario

After you’ve primed your reader, gotten them involved in the plot line with ambiguous clues and ruled out likely scenarios from their perspective, it’s time for the reveal. Who did Mary least expect to steal her drive? Better yet, who did you least expect? That’s probably the person who stole it. Take your most trusted character, and show a glimpse of their darkest side. There was no motive before, but now there is. That’s how you can really engage readers with a completely unexpected plot twist.


Now you know the basic elements of a plot twist that will absolutely shock your readers. First, prime your brain and start setting ambiguous clues. Next, keep more than one possible scenario open as you get inside your reader’s mind to check for loose knots. Finally, choose the least likely scenario and watch as your readers tell their friends about your book, trying their best not to reveal your big secret.

When You Notice Yourself Saying "I Hate Writing Essays", Think of This

By the time you're half way through college, you’ve probably been writing essays for at least ten or twelve years. You’ve written narrative, how-to, editorial, research and any other type of essay imaginable.

It’s no mystery why you’re tired of doing it. But if you think you’ll never have to write another essay after college, think again. Writing is a part of adult life too, and now is the time to prepare yourself for it.

Here are just some of the ways essay writing is good for you: 

Develop Critical Thinking

Most types of essays involve formulating a thesis. In order to do this, you have to have sufficient understanding of both (or all) sides of an issue so that you can choose which side you support. Writing essays forces you to examine topics more deeply and discard any superficial information that doesn’t come from your own research. This is a valuable skill that can help you develop your own well-founded thoughts and opinions on serious topics. 

Improve Communication Skills

Sometimes it’s difficult to communicate with someone about a subject. Especially if it’s a sensitive or polemic topic such as politics, health or relationships. Learning to express yourself logically and support your points with examples and facts is a basic communication skill that directly translates from essay writing. 

Prepare You for a Life of Writing

The world is moving more and more towards a world of writing. People chat more than they meet in person and text more than they talk on the phone. Your ability to express yourself in written form will serve you throughout the rest of your life, not only in casual scenarios, but in professional ones too. Whether it’s writing a cover letter (or hundreds of cover letters) and resume to reaching out to a company you want to work for to creating a report about your team’s progress, writing will be with you for the long run. The better your skills, the better prepared you are for your future. 

Learn to Research

Writing essays involves doing research. The more adept you become at sifting through information, especially information you find on the internet, the better prepared you’ll be to investigate topics of personal or professional interest to you. Finding quality sources written by authorities on the subject can help you with anything: buying a new computer, investing in a new stock or even choosing who you’re going to vote for. Life is full of questions and the better you are at finding the answers, the more prepared you’ll be to make good decisions.

Improve Your Grammar and Spelling

Everyone has teachers who are sticklers for grammar and spelling and that’s actually a good thing. Sure, your ability to express yourself is important, but as you move through the stages of life, including employment, your ability to read, write and speak correctly will matter more and more. So pay attention to these rules while you still have someone around to correct you on them.

Helps You Remember More

When you research a topic, take notes on it and write about it, your ability to remember that topic is vastly improved than if you were to merely take an exam on it. When you write about something, you are creating a lasting depth of knowledge that simply wouldn’t exist if you were only taking multiple-choice tests and exams about the same topic. Memorization by rote fades quickly, but the process of writing by crafting your thesis, researching supporting evidence and exploring the topic in your own words creates long-term memory links. Essentially, the more you write essays, the smarter you’ll be.

You may not see it now, but someday you’ll be thankful you had to write so many essays. They have a lot of benefits that will serve you throughout life, so keep on writing.

Welcome to My Blog

    Hey there! I'm happy you've stumbled upon my blog! Just before I post my first article I'd like you to know why I've decided to start this whole thing.

I've been making a living writing for over 5 years now. So I thought I'd start sharing some techniques, that have been working for me, and also the tricks that I've just tried and liked. Hopefully, you and other readers will share their opinions in the comments, and we'll have some kind of discussion, so that everybody will learn something new.

Apart from the writing techniques, I will post something just for your inspiration every once in a while. Plus, writing prompts! Because it can't be just bare theory, right?

Anyway, stick around and let's do some writing!