Despite the fact that I am currently fighting laryngitis and practically have no voice at all, it is still something I wonder about. I'm reading a wonderful little book titled Writer's Little Instruction Book: Craft & Technique by Paul Raymond Martin. He covers many topics important to writers everywhere, but the one chapter that really got me thinking was the one about a writer's voice.
Where does that unique voice come from? Is it somewhere in our brain, hiding behind all the trivial things we think about every day...just waiting to come out and play? Or is it stuck in some dark corner somewhere, trapped within four walls of our own making?
There is a big difference between talking a lot and actually having something to say. Beginner writers tend to walk around carrying a big voice and an eagerness to talk about anything. Everything. I've been guilty of it. I'm sure you have as well. I sit down to work on a new project and my "voice" shouts out everything it can onto that blank page. I crowd every nook and corner of the page with words during my struggle to create my own writer's voice.
Then when it comes time to edit, I tend to consider word count maybe more so than "voice", and I run the risk of causing irreparable damage. Mr. Martin states, "Voice is often the first thing new writers edit from their work, and the most difficult to recapture." I tend to agree. This new adventure into blogging has taught me that I do, indeed, have a distinctive voice to my writing. My readers can select any of my posts and after reading it, they know a little bit about me as well as the topic of the day. This voice is mine alone and can't be silenced. So I have decided to listen to it and try to figure out where it's coming from.
That means when I sit down to write, I try to eliminate all distractions. I turn off the television, set my phone to silent, and clear my mind so that I may hear that quiet voice when it speaks to me. You know the one I'm talking about. It's the voice encouraging you to write. Giving you new ideas to work on. Telling you to keep going when you receive a rejection letter. It calms your spirit and helps create the foundation for your own writer's voice to be heard.
Ever listen to a child sing? They don't care about perfect pitch or whether the words are exactly right. They sing for the love of the song. Children listen to the voice inside themselves and they give themselves permission to act on that voice. Writers should do the same. They should listen to their own quiet voices, allowing it to flavor their writing until they have discovered their own writer's voice.
Samuel Johnson, author and editor, says, "What is written without effort is read without pleasure." Writing without staying true to your writer's voice is like cooking without seasonings. The food is bland. Your writing will be bland. That which stirs your spirit will energize your writing and no one will ever doubt your voice. Remember, your audience is listening...stay true to that voice and give them something worth waiting for.