Writerly Wednesdays: Your Voice vs. Voices

on November 18, 2015

Hearing voices

Magic of ReadingIf you talk to an author, they will quite often chatter on about how writing is mostly listening – usually to the voices of characters in their head. It can sound a little on the crazy side, but if you choose to engage in a life of solitude at your desk, it can be really nice company. Don’t judge.

Writers who hear voices are truly the lucky ones, because they can always sit down and get to work. The voices don’t really stop. But it does help to direct them in a productive manner via your imagination and say, “this is where we are right now”, then let them at it.


Finding your voice

Hearing voices, is not necessarily the same as finding your voice, though both require the art of listening within. To find your voice – the thing that is uniquely yours, that adds the “sparkle” to a story, and engages your readers in ways they don’t understand – you need to listen deeply. The listening is not just to characters, but often your inner self. Your inner self knows what it wants to say. It might surprise you, but it’s usually pretty clear. This is, I believe, at the end of the day,  the thing that is calling you to write. Your body just needs to translate it in a form that is compelling to read. The voice will dictate the stories you care about, the tone they are told in, the feeling your words are meant to evoke. The voice in the writing is what the soul is to the body – unique, ever-changing, and there to encourage you. You can’t see it, but you know when it’s there. And when it’s not, writing can really fall flat.

Use your voice now

My mother use to encourage me to take up a writing career after I “retired”. I knew that was not an option, because the stories I write after 60 are going to be very different from the ones I write in my youth and middle years. If I didn’t write now, all those stories and perspectives would be lost. Worse it would be like crushing my voice for most of my lifetime! Granted, I might have written some lame stuff, but in some ways, if they weren’t written, it would be hard to get to everything else after. Unwritten stories are like baggage that never gets unpacked. There is a natural growth in doing the act of writing, and if you never put the words out there, clean them up, and send them off, then you don’t really finish exploring a part of your life you are meant to understand more deeply so that you can get to the next story, and the next part of your own story.

If you’re a writer, then write. Write now. Listen quietly to see where your voice the-end-lowresleads you, then put the experience masterfully down on paper. It’s as easy as that…followed by editing, proofing, polishing, etc. But that’s a different part of the process.

Until next time,