Friday, March 13, 2015

Finding Your Voice in Writing

Finding a voice in writing has always been an interesting subject for me. I've often wondered what it means to find your voice and probably thought way to hard about it. Is it choice of wording? Is it the feeling that comes across in your writing? Is it how loud you can be? I've seen many explanations on how to write.

Sentence structure, grammar, creative vision, clarity - all helpful to the budding writer like myself - but nothing seems to be more evasive than the undying question of how to find your voice in writing. It's like trying to get that toy in the bottom of the cereal box as a kid. Getting there is messy and if you don't wait till enough of the cereal has been eaten, you spill that stuff everywhere. You probably get in trouble too. 

So, one wonders, what does it mean to have a voice in writing? While I can't claim to be a professional on the subject, I do have my own opinions and theories on what makes someones voice come through in writing. To me, I interpret a vast majority of how a novel unfolds as the writers voice. Vision, emotion, and clarity seem to be what leads my intuition down the roads of a story that has me hooked. If I've strapped in for days because of a book, that usually tells me that this writer has captured their voice. They know what they're trying to convey and they've done it beautifully. Even if the book has me screaming for justice or crying because they killed their darling. Oh that punishment is so bittersweet isn't it?

Yet, how does one cultivate it? I pondered that question a lot when I first took up the sword of writing again. What is my voice? How do I bring it to the page? How can I make this not sound like word vomit and still make my message clear? What makes a person feel like they want to keep reading what I write? How do I make people feel what I write? Ahh! It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out.

Then I learned something along the way. The answer was very simple: keep on writing. 

When I was a little kid, the first story I wrote was about riding unicorns and beating up giants. (I used to have a huge fear of giants when I was little). When I was a teenager, I wrote absolute junk. I wrote a lot about vampires (was a huge Anne Rice fan), poetry, bad erotica because of my hormones, and stories about goths falling in love with demons that wanted to take over the world. Little did I know, even though it wasn't my best, it paved the way for my life later. Writing a lot of different things will eventually teach you what it is that you want to write. It really will.

What I'm trying to get at is this - keep writing, no matter what stage of development you're at. Even if you write with crayons on a wall or with a stick in the sand. A blowtorch might be an interesting way to get words spilling out of your brain, just make sure you have on some flame retardant. If you want to find your voice, let it escape. It's there waiting to come out, you just have to cultivate it and give it room to breathe. Let that monster go. It might stomp through a room, but let it go. Then rein it back in and listen to it's secrets. Your voice will find you if you talk back. 


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