Without any legitimate training in the understanding of artistic material, you can tell good from bad.
You may not be a graphic design expert, but I trust you can look at a website and tell if it is designed really well.
You may never have touched an instrument other than the pots and pans of your mother’s cupboard, but I will bet you can tell when an orchestra is in harmony.
You may think you’re a terrible writer, but when you read something someone else has written, I just know you can tell if the writer has voice or not.
Everything in life speaks to us, but only if it’s given a voice.
A lot happens, rather, doesn’t happen when a writer fails to have voice in their writing. When there’s no voice, there’s also no humanity in the piece, no node for the reader to connect to, no electricity.
Peter Elbow refers to voice as juice. “’Juice’ combines the qualities of magic potion, mother’s milk, and electricity,” Elbow said.
By ‘magic potion’ he implies there is power in the words, power to change the reader’s emotions, power to produce an entire world in one’s imagination, power to turn someone’s worldview over in a pan and call it sunny side up.
In mother’s milk you receive the nutrients you need to grow. Voice is a way of using words to express how much you care about a subject, and, by extension, the reader. Words that nurture the reader, giving them all they need and more, those words have voice; you might even say your mother’s voice.
As for the electricity I have mentioned, it’s about conversation and establishing an experience. Do you know what I mean?
That, right there is a question I’ve posed to you through the written word. Your engagement level rose, perhaps you answered the question, perhaps not. If you did, that is because there is voice in my writing. Maybe you wanted me to explain more of what I meant or in your mind added to my side of the conversation.
Conversations have energy and develop experiences.
Voice, in a way, is energy. Words can touch a person, pat them on the back, tap them on the shoulder, and stroke fingers through their hair. If you type words the way you say them conversationally, that’s how to find your voice. Then you can proceed to clean up the flow, but not too much.
Elbow also disccusses the potential and often-occurring action of overcorrection. You may have voice in your writing and through editing, remove the voice. Making all the corrections you can, editing something so it reads and looks perfect, takes out the humanity of the writing, and humanity is what people connect with. Notice the spelling mistake at the beginning of this paragraph. It reminds you I am only human.
While removing all spelling errors doesn’t quite remove your voice, reworking sentences so they are completely grammatically accurate can. When you make writing flawless, the reader thinks a robot is talking to them. No one wants to be spoken to by a robot. Unless, of course, they are a robot.
Stay Positive & Everything You Do, Do With Voice