Finding Your Voice

Author Meg Rosoff wrote, “Your writing voice is the deepest expression possible of who you are.” How does a writer find her voice?

First, the phrase, finding your voice, can be misleading. Your voice is who you are in the depths of your soul desperately trying to expressed itself through your heart, mind, and body. It’s believing what you have to say matters and not writing to please other’s expectations. It’s when you stop copying others and start creating something of your own and are willing to take the tough licks for being true to yourself.

We each are given a unique point of view from which to speak, but we emerge from a stream of voices. A long history of people and experiences contributed to the development and depth of the voice within from which I write. Creative writing is sharing you in the stream of the one great human story.

Truth be told, there’s really only one great human voice and mine is simply one string to be plucked on a harp with an infinite number of strings to be played. But the note of my particular string must be played, or else I lose my soul.

Your best writing voice emerges when you come to know yourself well. When you do, your inner passion will not allow your writing voice to remain silent. Maybe better said, a writer should heed the creative stirrings within and release her voice to emerge through her work.

One constant that serves me well as my voice continues to emerge is being a perpetual learner. The more I become aware through research, listening to people, and having experiences, the more I come to hear my own voice.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family of oral storytellers. Whether it was a full-length feature told as we sat by the gas heater in my papaw’s living room, or hearing simple everyday colloquial metaphors and old sayings while putting up a barbed wire fence, stories were the medium through which I came to understand the world. Story freed my creative soul to express my writing voice. Discover what frees yours.

Someone once wrote, “When you find your authentic voice, it’s like stepping into a comfortable pair of shoes.”

Not me.

It’s the most challenging and gut-wrenching experience I’ve ever had. I lose sleep hearing my voice speak at two in the morning. I’ve missed meals to write a scene that pops in my head. I stop on the side of the road or step out of the shower to write down a thought I couldn’t afford to lose. It’s a creative eruption that won’t wait until the lava of writing spills down the mountainside and smooths out to cool. It’s just too hot to keep inside. But once it’s out, my soul finds peace.

When you write from your unique voice, you risk being misunderstood. That’s okay. Trust your inner soul and both your creative angel and demon, then shout to the world your passion through your pen.

As a last word, John Grisham encourages, “In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.”

Anthony Wood
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