Find Your Voice Values

Your voice, whether you realise it or not, is guided by an ethical barometer.

Each word you choose to put down on the page – whether that happens through a delicate process of tuning in, eliminating and reflecting, or quite the contrary as it often is the case, in a bizarre and haphazard explosion of thoughts and ideas (or is that just me?!) – is rooted deep in values.

I mean, if you were to dissect and break down every word you use (and in no way am I suggesting you do this unless word investigation is your thing… but if you were to) you would find at the very core of each word a meaning that in that moment and space, meant something to you.

Maybe it was clarity. Clear, definitive, focused, on point.

Maybe it was freedom. Space, unbounded, wild, release.

Maybe it was transparency. Honest, truth, open, simple.

Maybe in was intimacy. Connection, emotion, affection, endearing.

Maybe it was authenticity, depth, transformation, passion. The list goes on and on.

These are what I like to call your voice values.

 
Each of my clients discovers early on during our writing mentorship together what their voice values are to better understand why their voice comes across in a certain way (have you reached out to your readers and asked them the question: How do I sound to you?), and how they can in fact, make more conscious/informed/aware decisions around the words they use to ensure their values are front and centre.

Voice Values

Have you found yourself reading back over your latest work of art and it’s hard to pin point, but something feels… plain off?

I’m only guessing here, but I’d say your ethical barometer is somewhat skewed. You know, not quite channeling the vibe you are after.

It’s so easy to read the words of another, someone you admire big time, and to fall into their world of explanation and whimsy. We have all done it and continue to do it. Before you know it, your words resemble theirs. You find yourself attempting to articulate an idea – your idea – but asking yourself, how would {insert amazing writer’s name here} say it?

Ah, the irony.

 
The voice value that is by far the most popular among my clients is authenticity. It’s no wonder then that your work feels tainted and even a little, corrupted? Can you sense the imposer syndrome?

It simply doesn’t read as you.

And guess what makes your writing yours? Your values.

 
Elizabeth Gilbert puts it best in her latest masterpiece Big Magic (are you obsessed too?): “Everybody imitates before they innovate.”

So don’t be hard on yourself. Imitation is the best way to learn, but getting square with the values, which underpin your voice is the essential step to leaping from imitation to innovation.

This is what I mean by communicating consciously. Just like eating, exercising, meditating, reading, hell speaking for that matter, we are constantly practicing the art of doing it consciously so that we are present and in the moment as opposed to acting in auto-pilot, unawares.

Writing is exactly the same. The aim is to do it awake and alert.

 
This is how your voice values can keep you on track. They’re your guiding truths.

So how do you discover your voice values then?

Writing is a good place to start and then some deep inquiry.

Here are some questions to help you identify and discern what drives the words you choose to use.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the ‘depth’ of this exercise. Let it be fun and discover your main four or five (cap it here because you could go on and on forever) voice values.

Questions for inquiry:

 

  • What do you care about? What’s important to you on a value level?
  • How do you want to feel when you are writing?
  • How do you want your reader to feel when reading your words?
  • How do you want your reader to describe your writing?
  • Looking back over your writing, are there common themes? Can you identify core topics that are common throughout?
  • Are you fearful of sounding a certain way? Being perceived in a certain light through your words?
  • What do you want your reader to learn from your words?
  • What do you want to do in this life and how can your words help you to do this?

Remember that your voice changes and so will your voice values, so don’t shy away from re-discovering your ethical barometer as you grow and change.

Because that’s inevitable!
Question: I’m so intrigued, what are you voice values? Did they surprise you? Now that you know them, how are you going to use them in your writing? Would love to hear from you!
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