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Finding Your Voice: How To Find Your Niche In Writing

Probably one of the more devastating "compliments" an artist can receive is that they sound, look or emulate some other famous artist. and, if that's the case, that up-and-comer is going to forever be known as "that one guy who is kinda like that other dude". We're all at fault for this--I'll compare obscure musicians to someone more mainstream when trying to suggest them to friends, or compare artists' methods to others as a way to relate to the art. Regardless, as the person getting this feedback, it means that what you thought was original isn't at all. Which is mostly the case; most originality is not really original or innovative, but that argument will be saved for a later article.

Even writers fall victim to this, and it can be a tough adventure for a new-comer to the reality of writing professionally. I am nowhere near considered a fully professional writer, but, I still had to find my niche and my voice that I felt comfortable with, without relying on trying to emulate a famous author to grab attention. For the longest time I tried to evoke Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Neverwhere) in my work, and before Neil it was Frank Herbert (The Dune Series). It took me years to find my own identity in writing, and even still, I am learning and trying new things. The pro-tips? There are many methods out there, but, I followed these:

Finding a muse. When first becoming an avid writer, one should find a successful author to be a type of standard, or inspiration. or, there could even be multiple inspirations. Writers whose prose really clicks with you, once you do that, you have a medium to base your work on and try to achieve. This doesn't mean, however, copying said person.

Widening your comfort zone. Sometimes people can be a bit close minded and don't like to try new things. However, having a bit of an adventurous side can mean finding something you really love. There are genres I'm comfortable with and others I'm literally intimidated by--but, I still and try to write stories in those uncomfortable genres. One great example is science fiction. I am quite hesitant with it, but, try anyway. Before immediately dismissing something, give it a try. And if it doesn't mesh, then don't pursue it. Easy, yes?

This will give you more experience and find what exactly your strong suits are, and what you can avoid. You could even find a genre you absolutely enjoy, but would've shrugged it off as weird in the beginning.

Appeasing yourself and an audience. A pet peeve of mine is a weak "voice" in writing. I mean when people apologize during their piece, saying sorry either for their opinion or how they might word something or whatever the case may be. This bothers me because the point is to persuade and sound confident in what you're saying, even in writing. Apologizing for your opinions is fruitless, as that said person just essentially wasted a few minutes of their time reading your work when they could've just as easily ignored it. I take on a stronger voice when I write these articles because I know what I want to say and am not sorry for what I might write. It's my opinion and, most of the time I'm trying to help people. You wouldn't be too convinced if I was apologetic and hesitant in my tone, now would you?

The second part of this is never ever force yourself to write a certain way to appease the audience at hand. And if someone tries to sway you otherwise, then they obviously have been hanging around school for a bit too long. Write however you feel comfortable writing, essentially. There will always be an audience.

Word choice. This ties in with the above statement in that you should never try and impress with your wordage, but rather keep your writing eclectic for the sake of sounding interesting. An expansive vocabulary can both be a blessing and curse--and usually is a tool for the pretentious--so, please, be courteous in your wordiness. Word usage is connected to personality; if you're adding in complex words to your piece that you normally wouldn't use, let alone know, then that is pretty much being superficial. This isn't a competition, contrary to belief.

Be confident and be open to suggestion. Always show pride in your work, but don't be too cocky. Never be intimidated by people analyzing your work, since it is a very healthy thing to do--it's how people discover what they like or don't like. While most writers like to lull their selves into a false security that everyone will praise their work, this is not the case in reality. Some people might not like your writing style but rather than worrying over it, just accept it as is and continue to write! If you have a growing fandom, focus on them. And if an editor or peer tells you to possibly revise something, never think that they assume your work is utter poop. If anything, they're merely trying to help.

Continue writing. If you're passionate about something, whether it is writing or something else, then pursue it! Keep writing and let the haters hate. With a constant flow of writing comes the wonderful growth of experience; as you progress and get older, your style and voice will continuously take shape and become comfortable to you. Don't give up!

By S. Mercedes - Freelance writer and journalist who specializes in technology, music, business and some how to's.  



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