A to Z Challenge 2013

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blog Chain - Discovering Your Voice

Today on 'Da Muse, we're back on the chain gang to answer a question posed by the ever talented Sarah. She asks:

How did you discover your particular voice as a writer?

This is a great question, but it assumes that we've already discovered our voice. For a writer like me - who is still exploring this weird thing called writing - finding my voice is like hunting for sewing needles in a bed of cactus. Blindfolded.

Okay, so maybe it's not quite that difficult (or painful), but I will admit to moments of frustration when a passage or turn of phrase doesn't seem quite right. I usually don't notice I am writing with my own voice until after I've finished a section and look back in admiration at something that has really come out right. For example, when I wrote the Ten Word Tuesday entry, that felt like a part of my voice. It just came out right. The same thing with the excerpts here and here. When I got done, I was able to look back on the writing and feel confident that it wasn't half bad.

As I reflect on how my mind is working and feeling while I'm writing these little bits, I remember the feeling of being in the zone. The words are just pouring out and I am stopping fewer times to go back and edit this word or that phrase. This is when I feel like my writer's voice is screaming in all it's fury, and it's a glorious sound.

The problem is that if you look over the three examples I highlight, they are all over the board. The first is comical, the second sentimental, and the third is dark. Examining this, I can't say for sure I've really discovered my voice yet. Or at least I haven't discovered the way to always write within my voice. All I do know is that when I hit my stride, the fingers are racing on the keyboard as fast as the mind can translate the ideas. At that point, I'm a demi-god. A demi-god with a chainmail bikini-clad bodyguard. Right Rebecca?

I don't know how well I've answered this question, but you can read my predecessor Sandra's response or wait anxiously for Kat's answer tomorrow.


Cole Gibsen said...

Great post, Eric! But I think it's okay to be all over the board. In my two novels my two MCs couldn't be more different - yet, they're both still me. So maybe you have your voice down, you just haven't realized it yet? ;)

Lost Wanderer said...

I am with you. I sometimes feel my voice in certain passages, but at other times I am not sure. But that only applies to my fiction writing.

My blog for example is always in my voice, and I can see that. Non-fiction things I write are also very much me. But fiction is tricky, perhaps because we portray a range of emotions there, as oppose to stating facts.

Jen Chandler said...

Voice interests me. I love hearing what others think about voice. I discovered mine quite by accident. Twice. I have two voices. Does that make me bipolar? Or just schizophrenic? ;) Anyway, I think it's important to find out voice. It makes the process much more enjoyable. When I'm working in my voice "zone", I am oblivious to the rest of the world and the story rushes out of me, almost faster than I can put it down. That's how I know I'm working in my voice.

Great post!


Nisa said...

I think as long as you're not forcing your writing, just being honest with yourself, you've found your voice. It may seem varied to you, but think about different authors who you like that write across genres. The tone might be different book to book, but you can tell it's theirs. Does that make sense? Just be you and you're voice will be there. Just my two cents.

Elana Johnson said...

Ah, and when you hit that stride, you should make note of A) how you got there and B) what words are coming to you. And then try to replicate that every time you write.

But enough lecturing. (Sorry!)


Eric said...

Cole - You're probably right here. Hopefully I write with my voice all the time, but perhaps it's just diminished sometimes.

Lost - I swear you're my other sister (I have a biological - if sometimes loco - older sister) from far away. We're so similar sometimes :)

Jen - I completely understand what you mean.

Nisa - It's when I'm struggling to get through something that I feel I'm forcing things. I'm trying to train myself to keep writing though, not take breaks. You're right though, about authors that write across genres.

Elana - I'll take a lecture from you anytime. You're totally awesome :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Great post, Erik - I agree with Cole, I don't think you have to write a particular type of way (comedy, tragedy, etc) to have found voice - I think it is about being true to that voice more than anything else. But more on that Thursday, when I post my answer.

Erica said...

Great post - voice is a strange thing, but when you read something and you can tell it's yours, it's your voice coming out! I can see your voice in the posts, I see it in this post. It's unique to you :o)

Kat Harris said...

Sewing needles in a bed of cactus. Ouch.

I agree with Erica. I think a lot of times writers don't even realize the "sound" of their own voice until someone else points it out to them. That's what happened with me, but that's for tomorrow.

Sandra said...

Your post makes me wonder if voice is linked to confidence. If you're feeling confident in your writing, then it sounds more like you. Does this make sense?

Rebecca Knight said...

"Finding my voice is like hunting for sewing needles in a bed of cactus. Blindfolded." LOL!! I definitely feel like this sometimes--well put.

Also, you are *totally* a writing demi-god in the moment! You can even have TWO chain-mail-bikini-clad warrioress bodyguards :).

B.J. Anderson said...

Great post, Eric. Voice is so hard to pin down, but I think you did a fantastic job.