Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with amza
“My voice as a writer tends to come from a little cavernous part of my brain. There’s a few different ones up there: one for academic writing, a few for speaking, and one for creative writing. … I find that my voice comes through the words I use, my structure, as well as the feel of my writing.” My Voice as a Writer
Have you found your voice as a writer?
I have been searching for my voice for some time. It is not that I had no voice at all, but it was a voice was in constant flux. It had not settled, and for a time I wondered whether it ever would.
In the three novels I have completed so far each voice is distinct. While certain similarities are there to be discovered, my leads have dictated voice to a greater degree than I ever expected. They have expunged me from their stories, obliterating the intrusive author, and chose to go their own way.
What of my voice? What of yours?
amza has an intriguing approach to describing her writer’s voice: “To make it simpler, let’s name my inner creative writing voice. Let’s name her Veronica.”
To follow in her footsteps, I present to you the three-headed dragon: JaLoLaw!
She is gutsy, independent and somewhat aloof. Her humour is subtle, never quite a belly laugh, but it’s been known to happen. She always goes for what she wants, even if she doesn’t always know what that is – got her into trouble on more than one occasion. An introvert who is at times prone to bouts of melancholy, if ever she is confused with a social butterfly that is nothing but the lustre. However painful her circumstances, she will never quit and will always face whatever comes with a good dose of irony. But more than anything else: she is conflicted. Her full identity is always either obscured or fractured. Who am I? Whence I come from? Are questions never far from her mind.
If you had to give your voice a name, what would it be?
I think of voice as the distinct personality, style, or point of view of a writer, or indeed of a piece of writing – be it a short story, a novel or an excerpt of prose – something that is uniquely their own.
Finding your voice can be a struggle, whatever it is that you write. Finding your authentic voice is key, and while style is an intrinsic part of voice, they are not one and the same. Voice is also about the particular use of syntax and diction, character development and dialogue. Even vocabulary and punctuation can be specific to your voice.
How can you find and nurture your voice? Mostly, it will come naturally. Don’t force it. The stories you write come from the subconscious, an extension of your own unresolved inner conflicts. This may result in recurrent character types, familiar plot twists, and even descriptive details that haunt your pages again and again.
Here are some exercises that I’ve found helpful for this:
- Use three adjectives to describe yourself.
- Consider this: how do you talk?
- Imagine your ideal reader and make your writing a conversation with them.
- Find writing that you admire and ask yourself why? It may be that your voice and theirs resonate.
- What stimuli do you use to write? This may say a lot about your voice too.
- Ask others what your voice is, what it sounds like, and take note.
- Free-write. Do not censor yourself. Write what and how it comes easiest, without editing.
- Once you’ve given yourself freedom to write, go back and read it again after you’ve given yourself some distance. If you enjoy reading what you’ve written then you may have found your voice. If not… keep writing. It will come.
- Chances are, if you enjoy the very act of writing, then you have found your voice. It should not be a struggle, at least not most of the time.
- Be vulnerable and honest in what you write. If you dig deep inside yourself, your voice will come through. Do not hide away from conflict and tension: they are the food of good writing and of your voice too.
Give yourself the freedom to say things in your own unique way. Just as your conversational voice is your own, so should your writing voice be. Set your voice free.
Now back to the beginning: Have you named your creative writing voice? Think of your voice as a character and share what they are like. Can’t wait to meet them!
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