Voice First

Voice First:

A Writer’s Manifesto

I wrote Voice First: A Writer’s Manifesto after writing in the voices of Pain Woman and other nonfiction personas prompted me to think in a new way about “voice.” Rather than thinking of voice as singular, I frame it in this short, accessible writing guide as a multiplicity, inviting writers to try on different kinds of voices in multiple genres in order to develop range with their voices. With many writing prompts and plenty of references to writers who’ve influenced me, Voice First encourages students and writers of all levels to stretch their voice muscles in writing, coming out in Fall 2022 from University of Nebraska Press.

“Voice First belongs on every writer’s bookshelf. Huber deftly explores the multiplicity of voices available to every writer, liberating us from the idea that we each have one and only one ‘authentic’ voice.”

Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir

Though it is foundational to the craft of writing, the concept of voice is a mystery to many authors, and teachers of writing do not have a good working definition of it for use in the classroom. Written to address the vague and problematic advice given to writers to “find their voice,” Voice First: A Writer’s Manifesto recasts the term in the plural to give writers options, movement, and a way to understand the development of voice over time.

“Sonya Huber brilliantly illuminates the intricate paths writers can take to shape their voices on the page. . . . Voice First is an inclusive, compassionate, and necessary book for writers and anyone teaching the art of writing.”

Dinty W. Moore, author of Crafting the Personal Essay

By redefining “voice,” Sonya Huber offers writers an opportunity not only to engage their voices but to understand and experience how developing their range of voices strengthens their writing. Weaving together in-depth discussions of various concepts of voice and stories from the author’s writing life, Voice First offers a personal view of struggles with voice as influenced and shaped by gender, place of origin, privilege, race, ethnicity, and other factors, reframing and updating the conversation for the twenty-first century. Each chapter includes writing prompts and explores a different element of voice, helping writers at all levels stretch their concept of voice and develop a repertoire of voices to summon.

“Huber’s book is a class in itself—a workshop on naming and finding the glorious, the cantankerous, the jubilant, the apprehensive, the mischievous, and the assiduous voices within.”

Bryan Ripley Crandall, director of the Connecticut Writing Project and associate professor of English education at Fairfield University

Sonya Huber is a professor of English at Fairfield University. She is the author of several books, including Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System (Nebraska, 2017).


I got to talk with Sarah Fawn Montgomery for The Rumpus about voice, disability, and writing for their Disability in Education special issue (Oct. 2022)

Thrilled to be featured on National Writing Project’s web show “The Write Time” in conversation with Michelle Caruso Walker!



ISBN: 9781496231314
University of Nebraska Press
Fall 2022

“Alongside Huber’s sharp personal reflections come prompts for readers looking to get the pen moving: ‘Describe the environment inside your head right now. If it were a setting and we could see it, what would it look like?’ It adds up to a great resource—writers of all strokes will appreciate this spirited look at the craft.”–Publisher’s Weekly, Sept. 2022.

Voice First “prompted me to think about nearly every half-finished writing project I have, overflowing with different ways to go about them that hadn’t really occurred to me before….This isn’t something that happens for me with most craft books, but there’s something really special about Voice First, which is built on the idea of using voice as a generative engine as opposed to just a stylistic tool…. I feel that I learned about myself both outside and inside of my writing. It’s a book about mindset as much as it is about writing, as much as it is about life—and how all three of these intertwine in various ways.”–Allison Darcy, Hippocampus Magazine, Sept. 19, 2022


I’m happy to visit classes, book groups, and writing groups. Please get in touch!

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