Finding a voice

My heart in your hands
What three adjectives would you use to describe you?bigger article by Jeff Goins, designed to help you find your ‘writing voice’.  (Jeff has an outrageously helpful blog on how to write blogs.  It’s so instructive it actually feels like cheating.  Every blogger should check it out.)


I asked my husband, Jon, “What three adjectives would you use to describe me?”

He looked at me suspiciously.

“It sounds like a trick question… You’re very lovely and wonderful and intelligent?”

“No, I mean, something that could describe both me and my style of writing.” (Blank stare).


I started to wonder whether or not my ‘writing voice’ was adequately reflective of my personality.  Did it sound like me?  Was it chatty enough? (Quite chatty enough, was Jon’s verdict).


I’m writing a lot about illness and suffering because that’s my life at the moment and that’s what I’m thinking about a lot – but would people want to read it? Is it too moany and depressing? Did my writing fully convey all the nuances of my personality? Would people realise that I was really a very funny and entertaining person in real life? (which inevitably led to: am I really a very funny and entertaining person in real life?)


“What do you want your writing voice to be?” Jon asked.

That was a more helpful question. I wrote down some ‘notes to self’ before starting a blog, to try and guide me as I wrote. I told him there are some questions I try and ask myself before I hit ‘publish’, which include:

  • Is it truthful?  I want what I write to be truthful – not just telling the truth but exposing truth. I want it to not just be true in its content but be emotionally true. I want to transmit the essence of the emotion I’m feeling, embedded within the writing, so that others feel it too.  There is a great quote from Billy Coffey’s blog that describes this task of revealing something raw and real when you write,

 Don’t tell me about love, speak of your passion. Don’t tell me you’re hurt, let me see your heart breaking. I don’t want to see  your talent on the page, I want to see your blood. Dare to be naked before your readers.

  • Is it beautiful? I want to write freely and honestly, but I also love language. I want to craft. I want to create something that is satisfying to write and a pleasure to read.


  • Is it redemptive? I want to write about the hard stuff, the dirt, the grit; but I don’t want to remain in the dirt.  I want to look up and see a faint pink cloud of sunrise.  I want to find some gold. I want to somehow point to a Redeemer, who will make all things new.


I told Jon this. He looked at me and smiled.

“That’s your three adjectives:  truthful, beautiful, redemptive.”


I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.


Over to you:

  • What three adjectives would you use to describe you?
  • What are you trying to do when you write?
  • Do you feel your writing reflects your personality or are you a ‘different person’ on paper to how you are in real life?




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12 Responses to Finding a voice

  1. Bea Stanyer 31st October, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    Man alive! This is great. I’m finding my writing voice slowly. I started a Tumblr blog but it’s more memes that I create myself as I love art, photos and pictures that illustrate the thoughts I’m currently chewing over. Usually Bible verses or lyrics from songs. But I’ve been wrestling with “a thing that might be a book” for over 20 years now. At times I feel such a fraud when I think of myself as a writer. I’ve journalled for about 30 years but actually thinking that others might be interested in my writing scares me to death. As a chatterbox I’ve always been told to stop talking so much and to shut up! So offering my writing to anyone presents a huge amount of trepidation to me. Thinking about the three words that describe me are noisy (obviously), passionate and follower (Jesus). Thanks for giving me space to think this through Tanya. 🙂

  2. Marvia 18th June, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    I love your three adjectives! They are so fitting. You truly are a woman of grace and beauty 😉 ?;-) ?;-) ?;-)

  3. Kath 3rd February, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Interesting post, I find that if I over think what I write I become self conscious and it all goes to pot. I then either write overblown pretentious sentences or become paralysed with indecision. I’ve been through many motivations for writing my blog over the years and have been stopped in my tracks by the desire to build an audience, affect many people and become obsessed with how many people have read and commented on posts.

    At the end of the day I love writing and I mainly write my blog to create a space to process my thoughts on life and for a future self to see that the path has been travelled before and that there was a way out. It’s a helpful Harry Potter style Penseive to place my swirling thoughts before they drive me crazy. I do that in a public arena so I push myself to write well and so that anyone else who feels in a similar way can know that they are not alone.

    I think my writing is the best expression of who I am, I’m fairly rubbish at articulating thoughts out loud but seem to be able to express what I want to with words. I love words and I love writing.

    Good post, love thinking about writing and why we write 🙂 Love your blog too 🙂

    • Tanya 6th February, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

      Thanks, Kath! I love your writing and I love your writing about writing. Like you, I’m feeling that writing is helpful to get my thoughts out (in a therapeutic type way?) I could see it becoming potentially addictive! Thanks for your encouragement.

  4. Alice 2nd February, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Oh, and I must say I think those words are beautiful and certainly ring true as I read you! X

    • Tanya 2nd February, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

      …thank you!

  5. Alice 2nd February, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I read that article this week too!!! I have no idea how I would describe my voice as I write. I guess as the commenter above has said, blogging is a different group and one speaks in a particular way!

    I’m aware that anyone could read what I say when I blog so I guess I’m more guarded on certain matters. I hope I’m honest without being too bleak!!!

    Seems like you and I share a desire to write and be better at it… Maybe we should email and keep each other going? Xxx

    • Tanya 2nd February, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

      Hi Alice! I enjoy your writing and think it is definitely what I would call ’emotionally true’ – I often find myself really moved by your posts. Would love to do some mutual encouragement!

  6. Jeff Goins 2nd February, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Hah! This sounds like a conversation I would have with my wife — question marks included. I am also asking her deep, loaded questions like this, and she has no idea how to answer. Your husband sounds like a good man. Great post, btw.

    • Tanya 2nd February, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment- means a lot. My husband is indeed a good man – and a patient one…! Blessings on you.

  7. Andy 2nd February, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    A great post. I think we all end up with slightly different ‘voices’ depending on where we communicate. In the same way that we talk differently to our parents, our children and our boss, we can use online tools to display different aspects of who we are.

    My own observation would be that from your Twitter and Blog, I see an aspect of who you are, but that it’s different from what I see on Facebook, and different again from face to face.

    • Tanya 2nd February, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Thank you! Yes, I think you’re right about the different voices we have and consequently the different ‘selves’ we project in the various media (and various relationships). I guess that’s inevitable…? I’m interested that you noticed a difference in the ways I present myself in various media; some of that is consciously done, other bits not conscious. I’m grateful to have people who know me well, who can navigate all these to get the full picture!

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