A voiceful writer
Growth happens when you water the roots
Do you know what voice is? I thought I did, but I’ve changed my mind.
Can I change yours?
Writers use the term“voice” to describe how a product, experience, or person sounds. Some of us use voice and tone frameworks to stay “on brand” when we write. Many of us secretly wish that reading the framework would turn us into voiceful writers.
But voicefulness isn't something you absorb through instruction. It's something you become through practice.
Voice is not found in a mandate from the brand team. It’s not a shiny, paginated guide with tables and what-to-do-whens. It’s not a rare plant packaged in crinkly paper and shipped overnight from brand land. It’s not words in a creative brief that immediately follow the words “voice and tone.”
It’s something that happens.
The caffeinated copywriter pounding out 102 junky headlines until they unearth a gem is practicing voicefulness.
The exhausted, inspired UX writer picking apart their own onboarding flow as the sun dips on a Wednesday afternoon, is being voiceful.
That person who speaks rarely, but clears their throat in a copy review and drops,“We don’t apologize, we address.” That is a voiceful writer. Maybe that’s you.
How does one become voiceful?
It doesn’t happen from a light misting of style guides every few weeks. It happens when a writer steeps in the voice day after day. When they get goopy. When they’ve soaked for so long that they are sodden with voicefulness. That’s when the seed of knowledge grows.
Voice happens differently for different people.
If you practice deep listening, you will hear the voice. Even in places that aren’t your writing desk, especially those places in fact. It can appear in a flash, and upon hearing it, the voice travels from your ears to your brain to your typing fingers. You “get it” and experience a knowledge zap, like lighting.
Sometimes voice appears in pieces, in your brain’s recesses; fragments seeking togetherness. You have to shovel down. Dig deep till you find it. You hold sentences up to your ear like a conch on the beach.
Do you hear the voice? Or does it still sound like you?
For me, it happened when I started writing the most boring version of what I wanted to say. Rewriting it in the brand voice. Rewriting it again. Then showing it to my copywriting work wife across the office. I repeated the process for months. One day she said, “You’ve got this, stop bothering me.”
It isn’t hard to find the voice. It just takes hundreds of hours of deliberate practice.
Brand voice happens when writers plant roots. So start digging.