For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a journey to discover my writing voice. In so doing, I have read other blogs and articles to see what other writers have to say.
So far, I’ve learned that my writing voice is as unique to me as my speaking and singing voice. I even today learned that your voice and style are actually separate. Style has to do more with grammar, punctuation, use of lack of adverbs and adjectives, etc… Voice, however, is truly all about you the person. Your outlook, experiences, mindset, beliefs, and yes, even your own pain.
This is the part of the journey where I realize that in order to move forward, I have to allow the titanium wall around my heart to open so that my feelings can come out. If I don’t, I will never be able to write anything with true depth and emotion.
Many of us do not relish the idea of going down into the dark pit of despair within our own souls in order to bring true emotion to a page. We realize the pain is going to hurt, and our first instinct is to shy away. How, then, would we write a convincing piece which is supposed to touch the reader and cause them to sympathize with the character, if we are not willing to dig into those emotions?
We have to use everything that we come across in our writing. Every experience, feeling, triumph and failure, good, bad or baboon butt ugly. This means that as writers, we have to be true to ourselves more than ever. We live in a world of Political Correctness that tells us we have to hold back in order to keep the peace. The truth is, though, that if we want to write convincingly, we are going to have to go to that place of joy, hurt, frustration and anger.
So this week, I am going there and I am challenging you to do the same. Here are a few exercises to try out on your emotional writing.
First is a little trick I picked up from Holly Lisle, author of the “World of Korre”, “The World Gates” and “The Secret Texts” novels. Holly suggests coming up with lists of words that come to mind when you think of a childhood memory, things that scare or excite you or something that you fantasize or hope for. What do these words say about you and how you truly feel?
Another exercise is to write a short essay about a significant event in your life. After you’re finished, ask yourself if you were true to your emotions (without naming the emotions) with regard to the event. If you feel you weren’t, go back and try it again. When you believe you’ve done your best to convey your feelings, then ask a friend to read the essay and identify the emotions present. Could they feel what you felt? Could they understand why you felt the way you did? Could they relate? If they answer (truthfully) no to any or all, then you may have some work to do. If they say yes, then continue practicing with other emotions until even the hardest of memories flows out in words that can touch and inspire others.
Remember, your voice is all about you as a person. It’s not about your grammar, your punctuation, or even spelling. The more you identify your own voice the more you will stand out to your readers and retain them. So come one, let’s dig in to our depths and see what comes out!