“The natural writing process is to write in the 1st person. This is natural – it’s how we tell a story if we’re talking to someone over coffee…” William Zinsser in his Book, On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
I’ve been doing more writing practice lately. I’m digger deeper. I’m learning to find my natural voice. You might be asking, why would I go through all this time and effort to figure this out?
Because intuitively I know that once I find my natural voice, I will have a new freedom to be me. In all my storytelling. And I really want that… don’t you?
You might be asking, what exactly is your writing voice?
It’s your style. Your unique way of expressing yourself….with all your beliefs and opinions. It’s how you see the world – your worldview.
Your writing voice is what makes you… you.
Why do you need find your voice?
This search for your voice is really about who you really are. What you want to say or don’t want to say. And how you’re going to say all of that.
The effort you put into that, makes you more comfortable with your style. It takes awhile to find your unique voice. And until you find it, you might be a little uncomfortable with your unique writing style.
Finding your voice allows you to communicate to people in a way that’s uniquely you. It attracts people to you and to your writing.
It’s the only real and long-term way to tell your story.
I’ve learned that all it takes is practice.
So I’ve been digging deeper to find my natural writing voice lately.
Here’s an exercise that Les Edgerton mentions in his book Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing.
He says to take out three sheets of paper and a pen or pencil. Writing the old way, will help free you to get back to your roots. Now, get completely relaxed and comfortable. Now, go back in your mind to when you were a young child(4-6 years old). Write a page describing a really good memory you have from that time. Allow the feelings and emotions to come up and write about them without censoring. Write this description in the vocabulary of that young child. Use words you would have used then. It’s crucial that you do your best to write in the “language” you possessed back then… not the language you use today.
So I did. Here’s what came of that effort…
I can still smell the dust that floated up to coat my nose that chilly spring day. My little four year old legs slid down from Momma’s soft lap that perched high up in the light blue 1963 Ford car. It seemed like a long ways to the dusty earth below. My stubby hands scraped against jagged rocks as I landed, but any pain I felt was forgotten the moment I looked up. With my jaw hanging open, like the opening of a church door, I stared out at the blanket of brown sprinkled with a little green. The mixture of dull colours and lumpy hills looked like one of my older sisters effort at baking a cake. But at this offering before me I wasn’t worried what I would find under the layers of brown. Instead my eyes widened and happy giggles erupted. I choked on the coat of dust that littered my throat and waited for the coughing to stop before I peered up again. Standing to my feet, I wobbled forward, hoping for a better view of the land that was to be our new home. All this space to run and play was a big change from the small lot and house in town our big family of thirteen had squeezed into. I shivered with anticipation. I wouldn’t forget this adventure or my first face-full of dust.
I soaked in another big breath. My first smell of freedom.
There was something freeing and so natural as I wrote this in first person, based on memories I had of my childhood. It’s like I experienced a shift from blurry to focussed. My writing went from critical to feeling free to be me.
Go ahead and try this exercise – I think you’ll be amazed by what you discover about you and about your voice. It will be freeing.
There’s other exercises and ideas to help you find your natural writing voice. Next week we’ll work on another exercise to help find your voice.
Have you found your natural writing voice? If that’s something that you’re really wanting to figure out, give these exercises a try… I think you’ll be amazed at the freedom you find in your writing. Let me know if you find these posts and exercises helpful, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
*Photo Credit By: Damian Gadal
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