How can you, a writer swamped by other, more acclaimed and publicised literary figures, find your voice?
The writing industry is a cruel and toughened mistress – she is not going to hold your hand and wait with motherly patience, for you to figure out who you are and what you have to say.
Sadly, you have to figure that out all on your own.
But what if you can’t? What if, finding your voice is proving to be a harder undertaking than first thought?
What if… You’ll never find your writing voice, and you will forever sink beneath the authority and fame of established authors and successful bloggers?
How can you, just another person in the industry attempting to make it big and hone your craft, compete against the big leagues?
After all, they seem to call all the shots – and, have all the lucky breaks that gets them from the bottom right to the tippy top.
They’re the ones who have all the power, and they have the readership you so desperately crave.
You might as well be doomed to an eternity of anonymity and voicelessness, right?
Wrong – Don’t sweat it.
Finding your voice may not be as easy as it seems, but you can do it. I know you can!
If a silly and very much peculiar 5 ft girl like me, with hair that is reminiscent of algae and who has a leg just slightly longer than the other, can do it – you bet your ass you can too.
And in due time, that fantastic voice of yours will become published and read by thousands.
The first step is to read, and read like crazy.
I know, I know. I promote reading probably a lot more than I do writing. But, it’s absolutely crucial if you want to hone your craft!
You cannot expect to hide away in a bubble filled to the brim with your own writing, and never let another author in, who for the most part is far more learned than you and can teach you a thing or two.
In order to reach new heights, and have a shot at becoming an NY Times best-seller, we need inspiration and we need to learn from those around us.
And no, this doesn’t mean you can go and read G.R.R. Martin and steal his style, or nick Tolkien’s unrivaled plot-lines.
This means, you simply need to absorb and learn from your peers – don’t become them, but become inspired by them!
We are who we are, because of our environment, our families, and our social group. Without the elements that dominated and retained our attention in our formative years, we wouldn’t be who we are.
Think about it.
Seriously, think about it!
Our personalities would be drastically different, and for the most part, we wouldn’t even be able to recognise ourselves, if it weren’t for our experiences.
Simply put. We are our quirky selves, because we were inspired by what was around us.
We drew inspiration from the world.
Good or bad, we sucked up every ounce of info we could. And that is how we came to be uniquely and identifiably ourselves.
Now, when you understand that fact. It makes sense that the more books, or for that matter blogs you read, especially those that are lavished with fame, the more you’ll replicate that same level of poetic fluency and word flow all the greats seem to have.
You will, yes, inevitably pick up a few stylistic habits from the authors you are learning from – but eventually you will find your own voice and those imperceptible habits will fade away.
All of what you’ve read, will form a unique and specifically you sort of voice and writing style.
No one will be able to copy you, because what has inspired you and morphed you into a prolific and brilliant writer, has been curated and sculpted by your own hands.
Everyone approaches things differently, even inspiration. And I’ve never met in my life a person that absorbs a situation just the same as the fella next to them.
So, have at those books and go get bloody inspired!
Try writing different genres or writing with a different tone.
No one ever said writers can’t have fun and attempt something new!
Give writing different genres a try, or have a shot at writing a blog post with a different tone than usual.
For example, if you usually write romance stories – give horror a try!
If you often write your blog posts in a very formal and uptight format, perhaps loosen up and let a bit of comedic flair find its way into your article?
As you switch from genre to genre, and write with new emotions and tone, you’ll find that you will hate some of these changes but love others even more.
The genres and the writing approaches you love? That’s your voice. Or at least, that’s where your voice flourishes and grows.
Do not try to water a dead flower, by forcing yourself to write what refuses to come out naturally. Instead, write what flows like softened honey, and makes you feel good inside.
With a bit of time and practise, you will find that special voice of yours. That voice that is yours and yours alone.
Write about what only you can write about.
We all have those experiences almost too personal to share.
Those stories, that if anyone knew, we’d instantly be treated differently – either molly-coddled and plied with fifty two cups of earl-grey tea, or beaten and bruised into a purple pulsating pulp.
These very personal and intrinsically ‘ours’ stories, can only ever be written by us. Sure, there’s plenty of people who have gone through the same sort of stuff as us at one point or another. But, they will never feel the same as you, or have thought about the situation the same way as you have.
Get to writing those stories, no matter how hard they are. You might stir up a bee’s nest. But, you’ll get out all of that pent-up emotion that you’ve ignored for a tad too long, and you’ll learn to understand yourself and your voice along the way.
The key to a writer’s voice, is their perception of reality and their experiences. If you write about your experiences, and how you perceived them, there’s no chance in heck you’re going to come out a voiceless inept writer with nothing to say.
You will learn so much about yourself – you’ll find things that you never thought existed inside of you. You will grow both as a person, and as a writing craftsmen or craftswoman.
For all you know, writing about that special moment that either broke you or built you, might just turn into a sprawling narrative that surges up the charts and becomes a number one best-seller.
That’s it, folks.
Don’t ever rush finding your writing voice. It is a process, one that needs careful attention and nurturing.
Think of your voice as a garden on the verge of budding beautiful vibrant flowers.
Would you suddenly go around drenching all of the plants in water, just to speed up their budding?
No. You would wait with patience, and you would let the flowers unfold and grace the world with their beauty on their own time.
That, fellow writers, is how you need to treat your voice.
Your voice is special, and truly beautiful. Don’t ruin it by prying it out of yourself with a hacksaw, and tweezers.
Let it be; it will arrive and blossom sooner than you’d expect.