Writers and Their Voices

How do you feel about your writing voice?

Anne Janzer
3 min readFeb 9

Colored pencils and speech bubbles

I never thought much about my writing voice until I started freelancing as a marketer in the tech industry. I spent years slipping in and out of distinct brand personas and ghost-writing for executives. This work taught me how to shape-shift my voice. Unexpectedly, I discovered it was fun.

Your writing voice is the way your words summon the impression of a human being. Readers sense someone behind nearly everything they encounter.

When we read fiction, we sense characters. We listen in our heads to a poetic voice when reading poems. We hear the sender of text messages. Even when reading marketing copy or interactive with chat bots, we cannot help creating a personality in our heads.

All writing implies a voice behind it.

How do you feel about your voice?

When I ask people about their writing voice, responses fall into three camps:

  • Authentic, steady writers
  • Intentional shifters
  • Instinctive adapters

The difference lies in their approach.

Authentic writers

People who don’t identify as writers also don’t think much about voice. When asked, they report writing exactly as they think or speak. (Or, they try to.)

If you know someone like this, you can practically hear them in their words. Even so, these writers may need to clear verbal clutter to make space for their voices. Writing is an imperfect stand-in for thought and speech.

Voice shifters

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people carefully control how they appear in print.

For ghostwriters and marketers, changing voice is a professional asset. Fiction writers bring their characters to life by writing in their voices.

Other people seem to do it for fun. Ask authors of fan fiction or people who write parodies of well-known authors and works. Writing in a different voice can be freeing.

Instinctive adapters

Anne Janzer

Author, Writing Coach, Unapologetic Nonfiction Geek. Writing about Writing Itself (very meta). AnneJanzer.com