Finding Your Voice

Writing isn’t easy
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint
You have to read read read before you can write write write

Do these sound familiar? They should be if you’ve been writing for any length of time and study the craft as much as actually doing it. Yes, I said “Craft”, not “Art”.

A Google Search on how to write will bring up about 519,000,000 results covering a range of areas from how to write a book using 10 ridiculously simple tips to Hollywood turning to something or someone called “Big Data” to write the next blockbuster (Note to Hollywood: QUIT IT WITH THE REMAKES AND REBOOTS!). I barely go past the first search page or two because most of it repeats in one form or another and that takes away from my writing time.

I don’t consider myself an expert on writing. I’m merely a guy with a word processor, an overabundance of ideas, and the balls to publish stories whether anyone actually reads them or not. But that’s not the topic of discussion today.

Today I want to talk about finding your voice or the ability to express yourself in writing. Personally, I find the idea of “Voice” to be a subtle and somewhat mysterious thing as figuring out how you breathe the way you do. It just happens as you do it.

We learn from an early age how to express ourselves through education and watching other people. We learn our ABCs, progress to grammar and punctuation, and then to more advanced concepts like usage and sentence structure. It’s not always an easy path and takes practice to be proficient at it. Fiction isn’t any different except that when you go beyond the language mechanics, the parameters change to using your imagination and creative instincts (they are there, trust me on that) to paint mental pictures using words.

While I often take issue with reading to become a better writer (mostly because I feel it taints the imagination by snagging what someone else has already done), I will concede its benefits to those who are still learning the craft. I believe in reading for enjoyment, not trawling for ideas. If I want ideas, I do research and read non-fiction to give the gray matter that little kick to get things moving.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I haven’t actually defined what “Voice” is. That’s because unlike many terms, I don’t believe that there is one catch-all definition for it. Yours will be different from mine and so on and so on again.

You’ll know it when you find it.