What is the most important thing to know or do as a writer?
The answer changes every day: write, read, learn, connect, focus, be disciplined, brainstorm, be bold, know grammar, people, writers, books, technique.
Yesterday, I decided I believe the most important thing is to find my writing voice. This was what yesterday’s lesson in the Intentional Blogging Challenge was all about. And it kind of got my wheels turning.
As I was methodically and rhythmically shelving books at the elementary school library where I work, I thought, ‘If I can find my true voice, I can write any idea in any genre.’
Aha! I felt excited. Woo hoo! I found a secret key to writing success.
Well, anyways, I went home after work and did the short ‘voice’ exercise from the blogging challenge. It told me to describe myself in 3 adjectives. I wrote silly/playful, adventurous/curious, reflective. I can’t count. But that’s okay.
Then it asked me if my writing sounds like me. Does my writing sound like the way that I actually speak? For those of you who both know me and read my blog frequently, what do you think? I thought yes.
Then it asked what kind of things I read and why they resonate with me. In thinking on it, I discovered that: I mostly read women writers these days (and, in fact, can hardly finish a book written by a dude…why? I have NO clue), characters pretty much have to overcome some huge challenge in order for me to stay interested, I enjoy books and stories about dark and difficult subjects, I enjoy feeling kind of uncomfortable, I must feel the wind in my hair when reading…figuratively that means that the story needs to clip along or I am going to leave and get on Facebook, I like it when writers write so well that it tricks me into learning new information, and clever imagery and word play makes me chuckle and I am probably nerdy for enjoying it a lot (I’m talking about you Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events).
During all of this brain swirling and thinking and mining and contemplating, I realized that, usually, when I am not writing much I am either quite busy or feeling a lack of confidence. What writer hasn’t felt this? Sheesh, inner critic…go away already! A lack of confidence is doubt. Doubt is unsure-ness. Unsureness comes from not hearing your true voice/ knowing where you stand on things. And not just in writing. In everything. If I am doubting my abilities at work, I can lose my true voice because I feel like I have no idea what I am doing and people are occasionally displeased with how I choose to do something. If I am feeling run down and sick because I touch hundreds of books each day that are covered in nasty kid germs, I can lose my true voice because I am not feeling confident in my health/ have no energy and want to take 17 naps a day. You see?
So, not hearing my true voice = not hearing any ideas in my head of what to write = not writing anything down. Does this make me a weak writer, the fact that nasty kid germs affect my writing schedule? Probably, to some extent. So, therein lies my challenge to myself, and to you if you are a writer. I/ you will have many times of doubt, so the more we can tune in to our voice in our strong times, the more easily we will be able to find it in our weak times.
How do we tune in to our writing voice? Here are some things I will try: do the exercises I described above, read my own favorite pieces of writing and try to figure out why they are my favorite and what voice I am using, read my own writing from times when I was feeling very confident and had good writing momentum- I bet my true voice comes out then, ask people I know that read my writing if my writing sounds like me, free write and write without force- see what that sounds like.
I challenge us to find our voice!
Good luck on your journey 🙂