“We must actively search for our voice, and clear a path for it to emerge. It is uncovered, not manufactured. We may not even like what we discover at first, but by embracing it we will position ourselves to occupy the unique space for which we’re wired.” Todd Henry
Creators of any kind must find their voice. Builders of anything must discover what makes them tick.
Here’s the thing: we’re not truly expressing ourselves, and speaking the truth, until we’ve found our voice: the tone, style, tenor, pitch and personality we use to express ourselves.
Your voice is who you are – your essence – put out there for the world to see. The hardest part is being brave enough. [Tweet this]
There’s no easy answer on how to do this. I’m discovering it’s a quest that is unending. It’s a constant retuning as the essence of who I am is constantly changing and growing.
As I’ve coached many students on how to fine tune their singing voice, I’ve been encouraged how their voice changes throughout the learning process. This is natural. It’s the same with us.
Much like our singing voice, our voice in writing and in life, is ever emerging.
*Photo Credit by LifeSupercharger
Tips to Help You Find Your Voice
Here’s some tips from my own journey as a writer and Vocal Coach. Yet, the ideas here apply to people who are creators and builders of anything.
Write a lot. This goes without saying. Really nothing else matters without the constant practice of writing. Write short stories, blogposts, novellas, novels, letters, diatribes, book reviews and love poems. The sheer mass of your writing will become the raw matter from which to chisel your voice.
Experiment. Be bold. Mimick people who are great at writing and make it your own. Find your own sweet spot. Trial and error. That’s what being a creative is all about.
Learn to really hear yourself. My writing voice is my thinking voice. In the noisy world inside my skull, I talk to myself. That voice inside, is the voice I try to put into my writing. The trick is to get that voice down onto virtual paper. Do it enough to get good at it.
Find what feels true for you. As you start it will seem like it’s just not good enough. But you need to sort through that and keep going to find the truth. Read your work out loud. You’ll hear the parts that ring true.
Find clarity. Good writing put simply, is really just clear thinking. I’m still working on this. Way too often my mind is muddled, so my writing is too. Clear writing is just a matter of simplifying. Work at removing the extra words and ideas until you have honed it down to express a simple thought.
Get rid of the noise. Most people end up with too many words because they never subtract. The noise gets in the way of your voice, so trim down the noise until all you’re left with is the truth. After you’re finished writing, edit and remove the unnecessary. Most people nowadays have too much noise in their lives to hear themselves think. Too much is going on around them and online that there is no room for silence. You can’t hear your thoughts, your voice without silence. Remove the noise in your life too.
Use your voice. You don’t go on a quest to find your voice just for the beauty of it. Although that’s a great thought, it must mean more than that. You must use your voice. To express yourself, to help others and to change the world. These are all things I’m learning daily. And everyday I’m discovering what it means to find my voice, and I hope my learning somehow helps yours.
Practice Your Writing Style
Last week I wrote a story from when I was 15 years old as my exercise and the previous week was a story from when I was 4 years old. This week’s exercise is also from Les Edgerton’s book Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing.
This last exercise in this series is to write a page describing a happy experience – but move ahead in time to a recent memory. Use the words you use now.
Here’s a recent story told in the language I use today:
Yesterday I sat at my desk trying to think of happy experiences from this past year. Tears rolled down my cheeks when nothing came to mind. I couldn’t believe it. A whole year gone by and nothing exciting? I knew I had been working hard with learning a bunch of new writing skills and other online learning this past year, so I thought maybe I just couldn’t see the past my own muddled busy-ness. More tears came unbidden at the weight of that guilt.
My daughter walked into the room at that moment. “What’s wrong mom?” Her hands picked up mine.
I told her.
“Mom there have been lots of happy moments. Maybe none of them were big, but the small ones are worth just as much.” Her simple words hit me like a bucket of cold water. It was the truth. I had been trying to think of huge, exciting moments, when all the while there had been many small moments that have been worth so much more.
“Sometimes the simple things of life hold the most meaning.” Her fingers toyed with the scratched gold wedding band on my left hand. “Like this small wedge that’s hidden under your ring. At times it’s the things hidden and simple that remind us most of what true happiness is. Those memories are the ones that are deep, lasting and meaningful.”
She gave me a hug and walked away. I wondered how she got to be so wise.
My daughter’s words brought a flood of memories. I thought of many moments that had brought so much joy to our family. Our oldest daughter’s High School graduation and later her acceptance into Art College; our family hikes; laughter around the kitchen table; card games on the living room floor; sitting at the piano singing with my girls; watching my husband play chess with his sons; picking summer saskatoon berries; watching the sunset, and the most recent … wildflowers picked from the meadow at the bottom of the hill from my two beautiful daughters.
That scent of earthiness mixed with the colours of summer remind me of these simple gifts that are worth more than all the Big moments for me.
I remember… and I am thankful.
I hope you’ve found this series helpful.
Now that you’ve read all three stories, I need to tell you what author Les Edgerton says what you’ll discover as you read once more through each story. He says to sit down and compare each story. Take your time and really look for differences. He says one thing you should “hear” is the voice that has stayed constant throughout your life, even though the vocabulary has changed. Those words and sentences will be those that are shorter and simpler with few or no adverbs and adjectives. These will have strong verbs and nouns that say exactly what you mean. Direct and plain descriptions of emotions. He says most likely the third piece has more flowery language than the others. He says to pick out the sentences in each story that stand out as a piece written by the six-year old in you. Those simple sentences are the real you – your voice.
I admit, I found these exercises very freeing. Looks like my next task is to find those simple sentences that show my real voice in between all the clutter of flowery language. Then to get rid of the ‘extra words’ and stick with the simple.
Did you try these exercises? Have you narrowed down your writing style to get to which writing style is your real voice? Let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
*Photo Credit by LifeSupercharger
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