Last week I watched American Idol as many did. After one contestant sang, Harry C. asked her if he could hear a song in "her own voice." I've never much thought singing had the same problems/issues as writers. But it made me think a bit more on finding one's true voice. After the contestant sang with her true voice, all three judges were smiling, happy to hear the real thing.
We've been taught to read, read, read in order to become better writers. And that is true. But we must be careful not to copy other authors' voices. Sometimes a writer falls victim to mimicking another writer and doesn't realize it, again because so many editors/agents want a quick blurb on what or who our work resembles ... at the same time searching for a fresh voice. It's a bit like balancing on the tip of a razor.
The only way to find your own voice is to write, write, write. And I would advice not to read too much when you are writing. When I first started out, I found my writing resembled whoever I happen to be reading at the time. I learned not to read while I write. Maybe that will help you too in finding your own unique voice.
Another way to find your own voice is to take something you have already written and rewrite it with a different point of view. Your thought process changes and your true voice emerges on the pages. Another experiment to try is if your work is written in past tense, rewrite it into present tense. Flipping tense and POV are simple exercises to bend your ideas until they are your own. Do this with a few paragraphs at a time. Compare the two and decide what you like or do not like about each. Is the cadence different? Is the thrum of the words work better in one?
This exercise may seem too simple or mundane to some, but it is also an exercise in editing. So you get two for one by working out the kinks in your writing voice as well as deciding what really works for each particular paragraph. Editing is a big part of writing and improves with practice, practice, practice.
If you belong to a writers group where folks are struggling with editing, or voice, etc., choose a few paragraphs to work on individually and then bring them together to see the many differences each person has made to the same paragraph. They will be delighted to see their work transformed in so many ways. It's a fun way for a new writer to create their own voice.
Til next time ~