One of the most confusing aspects of writing is finding your own voice. This mixed-up industry of publishers, editors and agents want fresh voices, but then further explain they are looking for the pace of (insert author's name) and thrill of (insert author's name) with the character insight of (insert author's name.) It all feels as if they are at a restaurant ordering not from the menu, but asking the chef to prepare something special just for them.
And they are! But writers beware! Writers are not short-order cooks. Writers need to discover and develop their own voice. It takes time and effort.
Rather than trying to satisfy publishers, editors and agents, satisfy yourself first. It's wonderful to be asked to write a certain way, but if your own voice has not been developed fully, no one will ever say I'm searching for someone like (insert your own name here.)
Tips for finding your voice:
1. Keep your personality in your writing. Too many times a writer tries sounding - well, writerly. It doesn't work. We each have hundreds of aspects to our own personality, from being light-hearted to heart broken. Yet each of us does light-heartedness and heartbreak differently. It's our unique personality that develops our characters and our story.
2. Don't be a copy cat. This will delay developing your own writing style and voice. When I'm writing, I rarely read; I want to maintain my own voice, my own style. I don't want outside voices influencing my writing. When I'm not writing, I read, read, read, to discover how others before me have accomplished and developed their books.
3. Write fast! I still write my first draft with pen and paper. It's silly, I know, but something clicks and my mind is in sync with my fingers and off I go. I can't write as I used to - I take more breaks, but I enjoy the process of the words forming on the page without my stopping to evaluate them. There will be plenty of time for that later.
I encourage you to practice, practice, practice writing fast - on a computer or with pen and paper. The mind is set free to develop at its own pace and the other part of the mind, that critical side, is silenced for awhile. Your voice will surface from the pages. I love that part of the writing process.
4. Play around! With words, sentence length and depth. Play with strong verbs. Ditch the adverbs and adjectives your English teacher loved. Play with bold words, strong words, HUGE words. Be silly, be sad, be energetic, but never plodding.
5. Repeat often! Finding your voice takes time with mega doses of practice. Athletes don't step out onto a court or field and expect to perform well without previous effort. They train, they study, they practice daily. They build their strength day by day. A great writer will do the same.
Til next time ~