Finding, discovering, and activating your own voice will probably be a struggle—at least it is with most successful writers. Their authentic voices set them apart from others. It's their distinctive manner or style of writing. A true voice is something uniquely yours.
Readers learn to recognize you. It’s the way you write. And if it's genuine, it will always sound like you. Or it will sound "off" or awkward when you write using someone else's words.
Voice carries two meanings for authors.
First, it's your style—the quality that makes your writing unique—unlike anyone else. It conveys your attitude and your personality. "I like his warm tone," a friend said about her favorite writer. "I feel he's talking just to me."
Voice also refers to the speech patterns. Some refer to it as persona. A decade ago I tested this in a class in which I taught a nine-hour course at a writers conference. At the beginning of the second hour, I handed out different paragraphs from five people.
I asked the class to number 1 to 5 for the readings. "One of those paragraphs comes from one of my books. I'd like you to write my name when you hear my paragraph. And if you know any others, do the same, or write one quality about that person's voice."
Out of nearly 50 people in the class, everyone guessed mine. Many of them hadn't read anything I'd written, but they had heard me speak for an hour.
None of them recognized the other authors but they caught the gist of who they were. "She's a romance writer," was one almost everyone got correctly.
I want to develop my writing voice so it reflects who I am.