Unleashing Your Voice

Photo credit: JKim1 on Flickr
When I announced I’d be writing this post a week ago, I immediately knew it was going to be one of the hardest posts of the four-post series to write. But of course, I didn’t have to worry about it for a week, so I didn’t really think about it.

Until, you know, I had to actually sit down and write the thing.

I suppose what makes this post so challenging is that I don’t really have any secrets to share with you except this one: there is no secret. There isn’t a formula or a magic exercise or a yoga pose that’ll suddenly unlock your voice so that you can release it onto the page.

The truth is guys, you already have a voice.

I don’t care if you’re 13 or 57, if you’ve never written a novel or if you’ve written more than 20—you have a voice and the moment you put a pencil to paper or your fingers to the keyboard you’ve released it. You’ve pushed the first domino, taken the first step towards what will eventually be a prose that is uniquely you.

And that’s what makes writing—any writing—special. I could ask all of you to write a short story with the same characters, same plot, same settings and themes and dialogue and in the end, every single one of you would come out with something different. Why?

Because you each have a voice.

It bothers me when I read or hear advice about trying to find your voice. There isn’t a form of laryngitis in writing—you can’t lose your voice, so there’s nothing to find. If you’ve written anything at all, you have a voice. Period.

That’s not to say you can’t develop your voice. Your first WIP will sound nothing like your sixth and your sixth WIP won’t look anything like your twenty-fourth simply because your voice develops as you mature as a writer. The more you write, the better your writing will be—and the more consistent and confident your words, your voice will become.

So how do you unleash your voice? The answer is one word. Can you guess it?


That’s it. Go out there and write and your voice will come naturally. Remember that every word you put on the page is unique because you put it there.

You already have a voice. Go use it.

To celebrate the end of this voice series, there will be an exciting announcement on Wednesday. Expect lots of confetti and pretty artsy things. J


Matt Anderson said...

I disagree with the notion that people don't have to find their voice. Sure, many don't, but especially with young writers with low confidence in their own abilities, they often "put on" a voice, not realizing that they're imitating someone else's voice (or an idealized voice from various works) rather than creating their own.
Not to mention, some stories require a different character. If you write a story set in a different age or time, you can't reference modern culture or media. Have you ever read a fantasy story that equates the size of a dragon to a skyscraper? Or describes a wizard's magic like the arcs of a Tesla coil?

Finding YOUR voice is about writing and finding out how you express yourself, best done without pressure or deadline, just write and find it.
But for certain stories, you have to find the voice that suits the atmosphere of the tale, to better evoke your world.

Ava Jae said...

Hmm, so I agree and disagree. I understand what you mean by putting on a voice, though I still think the maturity that young writers grow into is more about developing a voice rather than finding it. Two equally inexperienced writers putting on the same voice, so to speak, will still write differently, because they each start with different points of view, different experiences and different thoughts, which all go into forming a voice.

As for character voices, that's an entirely different matter. I tend to find that the voice you read in a book, unless it's third person omniscient, is a blend of the writer's voice and the POV character's voice. In which case, you're still developing your voice while also discovering your character's voice, if that makes sense.

So yes, I agree that a voice may vary from story to story (or even within the same story, from character to character if told in a multi-POV format). But I still think that it's not so much about finding your voice as it is about developing it over time. But that's just me. :)

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