As a budding writer, how do you find your “true voice”? Painters ask this same question when they cry in dismay “How do I find my style?” The truth for writers (and any artist) is that a) it’s always there and b) practice.
When I’m in conversation with someone, if there is a degree of familiarity, I hear their “true voice” readily. There is no need to hide when we feel comfortable with disclosing ourselves to someone. We shield ourselves when we don’t feel familiar or safe. We make “small talk”.
How do you recognize your writer’s voice–it tells the truth. Think of it more as “Finding Your Perspective” or your “Point of View.” Take global warming as an example. What is your perspective on this? Is it a reality or something that some scheming political party or corporate interest has made up? If you follow that thread, as if in conversation with someone, what would you say? How would you say it? What you say and your tone are reflections of your writer’s voice.
For instance, if I were of the belief that global warming is a hoax. I might expound on how we are being duped into believing this for certain profit-making organizations or corporate interests? If I feel passionate about this, then my ire could rise and that would come through in my writing also. Though I’d look for “facts” to back up this perspective and insinuate them in my writing, it would still be my perspective and expressed in my own distinct way. How convincing could you be if you wrote from a place that is opposite to what you believe? How in touch with your true writer’s voice would you be? I’m guessing a good, practiced fiction writer could do this. If that is your genre, then it’s another story altogether. However, even a good fiction writer has an overall style that can be recognizable to her/his readers.
Several years ago, I purchased a hand-held mini recorder. For me, it was handier than a notebook when I was either driving or out hiking on a trail. I could instantly record a passing thought, a whole poem or ideas for future writings. When I replay the recording, I hear “my true voice”. When you write, when you record your voice, compare to see if you write as you speak.
A poem by Pablo Neruda
“All paths lead to the same goal
to convey to others what we are.
And we must pass through solitude
and difficulty, isolation and silence
in order to reach forth to
the enchanted place
where we can dance
our clumsy dance
sing our lonesome song
but in this dance or in this song
there are fulfilled the most ancient rite
of our conscience
in the awareness of being human
and of believing in a common destiny.”
Begin with the line “What I most want to convey to others is…” and write extemporaneously for a period of time that you decide. Read aloud what you wrote. If you have a recorder, record yourself reading this aloud. Are you surprised by anything that you wrote? How do you sound to yourself when you play back the recording (if you made one)?