25 Things Writers Should Know About Finding Their Voice

One of the questions that’s been driving me of late is, “Just what the hell is an author’s voice and how does he find it and what does he do with it once he has it? Does it make smoothies? Can you shout a dragon out of the sky like in Skyrim? Would you eat it with a goat, would you eat it in a boat?” So, I figured I’d take to the Bloggery Zone and see if I couldn’t conjure 25 things I think about a writer and his voice.

Behold my insipid majesty on the subject:

1. One Word: “Style”

The traditional definition of a writer’s “voice” is, simply put, that writer’s chosen style. “John Q. Snarlmonkey writes with snark and panache, using tons of ellipses and lots of capital letters and made-up words. I love Snarlmonkey’s voice.” Voice equals style. That’s the easy answer.

2. Except, Okay, Fine, It’s So Much More Than That

Seriously, fuck easy answers. Easy answers are for babies and oxygen-starved kittens. A writer’s voice is an incomprehensible and largely indefinable combo-pack of — well, of just about anything. Style, dialogue, tropes, themes, genres, sub-genres, ideas, characters, stereotypes, archetypes, word choice, grammatical violations, and so forth. Anybody who tells you that David Foster Wallace’s voice does not include his obsession with footnotes should be shoved into a cannon and fired into the mouth of a great white shark. Voice is not one thing. Is is, in fact, the summation of a writer.

3. Revised Definition, Then

The writer’s voice is the thing that marks the work as a creation of that writer and that writer only. You read a thing and you say, “This could not have been written by anybody else.” That is voice.

4. That Makes It Yours, Which Makes It Awesome

If you believe that old chestnut, no original stories exist and every character is just a remix of another character who came before. Maybe true, maybe not. What the fuck do I know? I’m a writer, which is another way of saying, “Makes poor life decisions.” What I do know, however, is that a writer gets to own her voice. It’s hers and hers alone. It is her fingerprint, her retinal scan, her indelible and never-replicable identity. The craft of being an author is knowing all the elements that go into a good story. But the art, ahhh, the art is in the arrangement. And that arrangement embodies your voice. How can you not love that?

5. Sometimes Voice Defies Penmonkey Law

I’m just going to say this: sometimes a writer’s voice breaks The Rules, capital T, capital R. A writer makes certain stylistic choices and those choices may be objectively incorrect. That may — key word: may — be one of the strands of memetic material that runs through the DNA of an author’s voice.

6. Don’t Mistake Bad Writing For Good Voice

That being said, bad writing is bad writing. Any stylistic hangnails should be minor and made with full awareness of why they need to exist: don’t write like a shit-heel and call it part of your writer’s voice. Crap writing is indefensible. Try to pull that one over on a seasoned editor and they will stab you in the gonads with a red pen. And you will have deserved it.

7. You Can’t Force It

Forcing your voice is a futile endeavor. Like trying to hammer a cat through a mousehole (which is totally not some weird new sex move, by the way — UNLESS IT IS). Voice is a component of practice and maturity. Same way you can’t concentrate really hard to make puberty come earlier (“Grow, pubes, grow!”), you cannot artificially and prematurely discover your voice. Writers must cultivate patience (or perhaps patience’s rude and grumpy cousin, stubbornness). You’ll get there. Your voice will come.

8. “It’s A Trick. Get An Axe.”

You can try to trick your voice into appearing early, try to overwrite or use purple prose or engage in stylistic flourishes that plum don’t belong. Don’t bother. It’s just peeing with someone else’s dick — it’ll feel weird and alien, like some critical component does not belong.

9. We First Must Mimic

When you first start writing, you write like those writers you read most frequently. Maybe you mean to. Maybe it’s an unconscious thing. But don’t fight it. It’s all part of the process.

10. Other Authors Are Spun Into Our DNA

Eventually we stop miming the style of others, but along the way we still break off parts of other authors and graft them to our own styles. Some parts must be kept. No harm in that — we shouldn’t be upset with our influences. Why turn away from those who got us here? Those whose voices mattered most? As long as their voice does not take over our own, we’re good. It’s okay if we are in part the culmination of other voices. Like I said before: the art is in the arrangement.

11. This Shit Takes A Long Time

You don’t find your voice overnight. It doesn’t just appear like the fucking Tooth Fairy. I don’t know that it’s a function of time or a function of how much you write or some mutant hybrid of each, but it’s a slow discovery. You’ll catch glimpses of it once in a while, and you’ll cultivate it without even meaning to — and then, one day, it’s like, boom. Your balls drop and there it is: your voice. Or, if you’re a girl, your… vagina blooms? I don’t know what happens with your lady-parts, having none myself. I should get a set, just to see.

12. Evolution And Mutation

Your writer’s voice, like your real voice, changes. One day you’re all fresh-and-squeaky, and then calendar pages whip off the wall and suddenly your voice is scratchy and dry like you’ve been gargling watch parts and cigarette butts for the last ten years. Read any given author over a period of time and you see this — you can witness the Auteur Theory in action as their voice squirms and shifts.

13. Beware The Cardboardization Of Your Work

Some will try to beat your voice back, like they’re thwacking a tiger with an umbrella in order to urge him back into the bush. (Also not a weird new sex move.) Again, if you’re confusing bad writing with good voice, okay, fine, let others — be they agents or editors or readers — judge your voice and find it wanting. But also beware what happens when they want to milk your words of what makes them special in order to make something more marketable. Your voice is one of the strongest and most complicated weapons in your arsenal. Do not give it up without a fight. Poll your intestinal flora. Check your gut. You’ll know.

14. Not Just How You Write, But Who You Are

We assume voice to be a thing built of technical components. That’s it, but only part of it. Your voice is also who you are. How you bleed and spit and scream on the page. You are your voice. Your voice is you.

15. The Sexy Tango Of Honesty and Authenticity

Be honest. Be forthright. Be authentic. You believe things. You know things. You question things. All this crazy shit needs to spill out of your head and end up on the page and in that — in the choices you make, choices that come from questions only you could’ve ever asked — your voice will bloom. Like a vagina. A blooming, fragrant vagina. I might be confusing “vaginas” with “flowers” again.

16. What You Add Versus What You Subtract

It’s easy to suggest that a writer’s voice is what’s there when you write unbidden, unrestrained by the shackles of grammar or good taste or, y’know, sobriety. But your voice is not only a summation of those things you let out the door — it’s also a calculation configuring those doors you keep closed. It’s about subtracting as well as adding — pruning as well as cultivating. Voice can be a matter of writing small just as easily as it can measure the boldness of your stroke. HA HA HA STROKE MASTURBATION um, nothing.

17. Look To Your Body Of Work, See The Voice Emerge

Voice is not just the result of a single sentence or paragraph or page. It’s not even the sum total of a whole story. It’s all your work laid out across the table like the bones and fossils of an unidentified carcass.

18. Listen To Your Voice — No, I Mean Your Actual Voice

There lurks an intimate connection between the written word and the spoken word. We pretend it’s not true, as if the written word is somehow higher up in the food chain, somehow more exalted, but that’s a big brass bucket brimming with bullshit. Language exists initially to communicate from person to person — it is born of speech and sound. Words aren’t just symbols: they’re really how we say things. And so it is that your actual voice matters in this regard. Listen to what you say and how you say things: your authorial voice lurks in this. You should endeavor to write at least in part how you speak. By doing that, you capture the essence of how you say things. Related: always read your work out loud.

19. The Banshee’s Scream

Voice matters. Voice is important. But at the end of the day, if it takes your story and drowns it in a hot stockpot of scalding soup, then you’ve done yourself a disservice. In the Great Cosmic Chain Of Telling Bad-Ass Motherfucking Stories, voice is subservient to story, not vice versa. Voice helps you tell the story at the same time story helps you find your voice. But no matter what, story is the pinnacle, the zenith, the apogee, and other words that mean the “tippy-top” of the narrative mountain.

20. Regular Like A Morning Constitutional

Consistency in voice matters. It should day to day, page after page, hold together. The only way this fails is if you’re uncertain. If you lose your shit. If you freak the fuck out.

21. Don’t Panic

Breathe easy. Loosen your mind sphincter. Don’t panic. It’s like with sex — think too much and too hard about it, you’ll short circuit a synapse and put the kibosh on the mood. Serenity serves the writer’s voice.

22. Where Writer’s Block Is Born, Screaming And Keening

I wonder if writer’s block is actually a thing born of not yet knowing your voice. If we’re here to assume that part of a writer’s voice is knowing what to say and how to say it, then not being sure of — or comfortable with — one’s voice would lead to the fear that spawns the poorly-named writer’s block. It seems sensible. Then again, so did running through that Arby’s naked last night, sauced to the gills on ecstasy and wine coolers. Maybe I’m not the best guy to listen to on what’s sensible.

23. Eventually You Stop Being Afraid Of Yourself

Writers are at the outset a scared species. It’s not our fault: we’re told that it’s a bad idea and unless we want to prepare for a life lived inside a palatial piano crate we should just buckle down and become accountants. And so I think there’s a lot of bad psychic voodoo that clogs the works, and until we start to clear that out, it’s really hard to find out who we are on the page and what our voice looks and sounds like. Finding your voice is then synonymous with losing the fear of not just writing but of being a writer.

24. The Confidence Game

Confidence is key. I’ll say no more than that: confidence is key.

25. Don’t Write Like Anybody Else

At the end of the day, take the opportunity to write like you want to write. Actually, it’s weirder and deeper than that — what I really mean is, write like you need to write. Your voice might be a component of confidence, but it also might be an accumulation of obsessions and foibles and fears and frailties and all the crazy moon-unit shit that makes us who we are. I’m going to quote from another terribleminds commenter, found last week at “25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now)” — Amy Severson said: “When I finally realized that I was never going to write like the the authors I loved and just started writing how (and what) I wanted to, it was like someone blew out the little candle I was huddled under and flipped the switch on a dozen spotlights.” I think that says it all about a writer’s voice, don’t you?

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77 comments

  • Ah, thank you for this! I am still trying to escape my neutral term paper mode. My writing is like a police report. Guess I need to relax. A lot of good things to consider! Cheers–

  • I think I found my voice, or at least a voice. It was down the back of the sofa. A quick dust, a couple of fresh batteries and off it went.

    I’m not at all sure it’s really mine though. Shouldn’t it be speaking the same language as me? This one just buzzes and it’s impossible to write with because it shakes so much.

    I tried asking Wife about it but she went all quiet and red and now won’t speak at all.

    Maybe it’s her voice? Any advice on how to re-insert it?

  • A few years ago I opened a box of old papers and found some notes a younger sister and I had written to each other. Back when we were, oh, I don’t know, maybe 12 and 10 years old. We were being silly and ridiculous and making stuff up for our own entertainment. We hadn’t signed our names to the notes and, honestly, I didn’t remember them. But I knew, without doubt, which ones I’d written. They were in my voice.

    It was comforting, in a way. But also disturbing, realizing that I still write like a 12-year-old girl. [sigh] It also sort of upended everything I thought I “knew” about voice and how it develops.

    Yes, I’m more confident now. I’m more likely to write things that are argumentative or forceful or flirtatious or outrageous. Things that will make you furious and things that will make you weep and things that will make your sides ache with laughter. Things I never would have, or could have, written when I was 12. But it’s still the same damn voice.

    I’m not disagreeing with your 25 things, necessarily. In fact, I agree with most of what you say. But I’m not sure it’s a matter of “finding” your voice. Your voice is just there. You know it. You recognize it like an old friend. We all have one. Like when you answer the phone and it’s your mom and she just starts talking — you know who it is. That’s voice too.

    But for a writer, it’s a matter of discovering which medium and genre and palette of words is best suited to let the voice break through to the outside. Like deciding whether to let it wear a red velvet cape or a brown cashmere overcoat. What fits, what complements, what lets the true nature shine through. Or maybe it’s realizing it doesn’t matter how the hell you dress it up, your voice is strong enough and versatile enough to handle an entire goddamned wardrobe. Or maybe it’s a matter of finding the right audience. Because a voice is nothing until it bounces off something, resonates. A voice doesn’t exist unless it’s heard. So maybe a voice is defined in part by who is listening.

    Whatever. I don’t think voice is something you set out to find like it’s the prize at the end of a scavenger hunt. It will smack you upside the head once you’re ready to hear it. And then you’re stuck with it.

    But what the hell do I know. I’m sick as a… um, a sick person with a nasty head cold. Probably I’ve had too much orange juice.

    Holy guacamole, it’s 2 AM. Damnit, Wendig, I should be sleeping.

  • So if I squirt out some soulful brain-jizz and it doesn’t make the pages stick together, that’s voice, right?

    ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that’s what you just said.

  • I know my voice is out there somewhere. But for now, I’ll just have to park my ass on number nine. Seems I have no problem finding someone else’s voice. I like Poe. He’s dead, so I don’t think he’d mind if I used his for awhile, just till I can find my own.

  • Woah, seriously. Are you like psychic or something? I’ve been dwelling on the idea of voice for a while now and here you come along and make this awesome post.

    ‘Awesome post’. he heh eheh.

    Man, too much Wendig. (Wendig, now *that* sounds like some weird new sex move).

  • This subject seems to be popping up a lot lately, and once I decided that I needed to “know” what it was I’ve noticed it a lot more. Funny how that works. I’m going through revisions in my WIP and having other people suggest changes to wording has brought it home. I can actually see (hear?) my voice, which is kinda weird, but also comforting. I was starting to wonder if I had one. I know that sounds stupid.

    Excuse me, I’m off to thwack the tiger. wink wink nudge nudge

  • Can’t stop laughing at your descriptions of writing with sexual objects. How the hell did you think of those? Somehow I got so lost in your comprehensive list that all that echos in my mind is VOICE. (and vaginas and dicks)

  • Great article! I know something I’m guilty of is thinking too hard about how I’m going to say something, and before you know it my writing comes out formal and nothing like my own voice. My writing is best when I lose myself and stop thinking so hard.

  • I guess I’ve always written with my own voice, because when I was a kid, I used to talk to myself constantly, making up stories wherever I was (my family pretty much thought I was loony-probably still do). But there have been times when I thought “I wish I could write like so-and-so”. Then I remembered I have my own voice, and I couldn’t help writing like me and no one else. I do think I need to sculpt my voice a bit, because I get rambly.

  • Agree with everything here, Chuck. But how about this as 25B: Schizophrenia can be fun and profitable. If you can pull a Rich Little, have multiple voices at your command, you open up many professional orifaces for yourself — as in, thoroughfares for your shit. I have my fiction voice, which is louder, angrier, and hopefully funnier than my mainstream nonfiction voices. And those voices have to be adjusted for the market — in the past 6 months I wrote celeb profiles for Men’s Health and a vasectomy memoir for Redbook (would I make that up?). And then there’s the food & nutrition book, and the sports injury book. Very different voices, especially from a guy whose last novel is called Where the Sun Don’t Shine. If you can wrangle all those voices in your head into a controllable racket, on deadline, people will write you checks.

  • Awesome post. Too many writers who are just starting out (myself included, back in the day…) have a habit of mistaking shit writing for “voice”. By the way, “peeing with someone else’s dick” made me do a spit take. Wending FTW.

  • It’s pretty painful to dial back the voice once it sets in. I managed a decade of chafingly dry academic writing, polite journalistic style reports, and policy analyses. Now, my fiance is back in school and I can’t even look at her papers because my instincts have evolved in a way that doesn’t work for any rational professor.

    Also, the blooming vaginas reference immediately sent me to googling up O’Keefe images… sweet blooming cow skull vaginas

  • Great advice as usual, Chuck.
    Your voice is a lot like YOUR VOICE. I tried to write like I thought a writer should. The longer I’ve written, the more my writing resembles the same rhythms I use if telling a story at the dinner table or the bar… you break it up. Digestible chunks, pauses to have a sip of coffee or a draw at your beer. You need them to breathe, but a reader needs them to digest what you’ve just said. Our brains are different, squirrelly, quick. In the olden days you could ramble for paragraphs of unbroken sentences because people focused. They weren’t distracted.
    Sure, if you’re David Foster Wallace and you want to write page-long blocks of text, go ahead. But let’s face it, most of us ain’t DFW and never will be (and I don’t want to be). I want to be the guy at the campfire who makes you hold in your pee because you want to know how the story ends. To hold someone like that, you need a subtle rhythm. And reading your work out loud helps you find the unwieldy sentences, or too much chopped rhythm.

    Chuck also wrote a great “Fuck Doubt!” column a while back and you should re-read it all the time like I do. Doubt is a constant companion. I talk with writers with five books out and contracts for 3 more, and they have doubt. Fight it, always. And write. Write, write write. In weightlifting, everyone looks for shortcuts. “How do I get better at the bench press?” And the answer is “keep benching.” Same with writing. It is a skill, a muscle, an exercise, a talent… and you only improve by doing. Even if you aren’t happy with the results, the exercise has value in itself.

  • Hi,
    I came here from Oprah’s site…just kidding! Love this post, especially the use of the word “apogee” which is probably the best word in the English language and sadly wasted by meaning only “tippy top”. Apogee, apogee…..

  • I found my voice as a blogger not too long ago. I used to have thousands of subscribers, for years, and it was a hell of a time. My readers, even to this day, tell me that they could read 20 different documents and tell me with absolute certainty which one is mine. Pretty cool. I say things the way I say them. Even as I use the thesaurus to avoid redundancy, my stuff still has a familiar feel.

    I am concerned that as I enter the buzzsaw of commercial editing, that in their earnest slashing they will gouge out key elements of my work like so many eyeballs, glazed over from excessive adverbs. I think perhaps it is a fine line, sometimes, between “my voice” and things like “little darlings”. I am still not entirely clear on what little darlings are, but I write things the way I do because that is how I want them said, and I know what I am doing. I have it how it is for a reason, and it doesn’t suck.

    I guess the challenge will be to find a happy medium where I can make changes needed, but still do it my way. My massive ego serves me well, except when it doesn’t.

  • Well, this is great and the comments are great.

    “Shit-heel,” you got that from your dad, I’ll bet. Mine would have said, “Shitasses.” They both would have said “useless as tits on a boar.”

    Back to work on a guy who drinks like a fish, but hates profanity.

  • I’m reading along laughing and nodding and going “hells yeah” and then I get to the end and see my freakin’ name. Holy wow. Thanks for quoting me, Chuck. That was seven kinds of awesome of you.

    #18 was key for me. I started blogging four years ago and through that exercise (just rambling on about life and crap) I discovered I had a voice. Then I discovered that I could translate that bloggy voice into my fiction. At that point, I started writing a metric crap-ton more than I ever had in the past. And I enjoyed it 1000% more, too.

    I never get tired of your lists!

  • Funny thing, voice. Often, the hardest one to “hear” is your own. When I’m editing, I’ve found that the things I “hear” are usually the departures from my voice. I’ll be reading along, pretty happy, catching a hiccup hear or there, when suddenly something will pull me up short. It’s those somethings that usually have to go or be severely punished. The somethings used to be the spots where I caught myself trying to impersonate someone else — I’d conciously decide it was time for some “atmosphere” and I’d try to go all James Lee Burke for a sentence or two, and then, as I read back through the copy, I’d be all, like “Yuck, what’s this bad Burke impersonation doing in my scene.” Now, I’m confident enough that I don’t conciously emulate people. Now I’m pulled up where I get lazy. Maybe it’s the middle of a long bit of dialog that was necessary, but that I got a little bored with, and I started drifting off into cliches. Or some bit of description that feels hollow and pedestrian. Now it’s those sentences that don’t feel like mine not because they feel like imitations of someone else in particular, but because they feel like they could be have been written by anybody. Not every sentence in every book is going to be a gem, but when one feels like a throw-away, then it probably should be thrown away.

    I don’t know what my voice is, exactly, but I know I have one. The funny thing is I can only tell when I lose it.

  • If you’re a girl…we bleed, man. We bleed and DON’T DIE. Muha Muha Muhahhaa…ahem.

    In Ancient Egypt, the term “maa-kheru” was one of the highest labels of honor a person could receive, and nobody went to the afterlife without it. It translates to “true of voice” or “justified.” In Ancient Egypt, it meant you could get past the monster that would eat your heart right out of your chest and consume your soul right out of existence. Still not a bad skill to cultivate 4000 years later.

  • Voice is YOU.
    My voice is all purple prose. Hehe. Not really.
    I loved the paragraph about spoken words. It’s a magical thing to read your work out loud. To yourself. To your flowers. To your friends. To the mailman. To the barista until she gives you a free latte just so you’ll get out. Just kidding. I’m pretty sure she loves it when I read aloud.

  • Wonderful list Chuck. I fear I still need to find my voice, which is most annoying as I am always afraid of writing poor imitations of whatever I last read (with bits of whatever was before that).

    On a note of personal interest though: the authorial voice does actually have a mathematical component to it. I did an experiment on this years ago (and eventually got a minor planet out of the deal), using compression algorithms. You see compression on a file reduces redundant data to make something smaller, and authors write like themselves in seemingly imperceptible ways. The upshot of which is that any given author will compress by amount X when I run a file through an algorithm.

    “Well that’s all well and good” you say “but what of my other books, with different characters and settings and such?” “Aha” I reply with glee “but this transcends that. Even if I smash two books together they will have the same ratio of compression. If I smash your book and that of anyone else it will go all wonky and I can tell two different people wrote those things.” “But what of poetry?” you ask in a dogged attempt to trip me up. “Well, alright, there we have a small conundrum. The different kinds of poetry are often to short to test properly, and the necessary difference in form can throw it off. So Carroll’s poems don’t compress like his prose, but the prose does like the prose and the poems like the poems.”

    In my tests I could verify the authorship of an unknown work with total accuracy just by attaching it to known files and checking the ratio. Except where Shakespeare and Marlowe were concerned, they mysteriously had identical results all the time.

    That was longer than I planned.

  • For anyone struggling with being sure of their voice, I have a suggestion. Try storytelling. Not the kind on paper, the kind where you get up in front of an audience and tell a story. Start with kids’ stories, if you have kids, or can borrow some. Start with stories you know. Start with Goldilocks. Or go to one of those open-mike things and tell an anecdote. There is no faster and surer way to find out how you put things together, how you articulate them and what is important to you than to use your actual voice to tell that story. I came to writing fiction after 20 years of storytelling and voice is the one thing that I don’t stress about! Also, should you succeed as an author and have to appear at book signings and so on, being able to tell a story is a very useful skill!

  • BTW, Sparky, that has to be one of the coolest things I have ever read. Woah. Algorithms rock.

    Also, Chuck, this:

    Writers must cultivate patience (or perhaps patience’s rude and grumpy cousin, stubbornness).

    made my day!

  • I get nervous whenever I think about voice, mostly because I try to sound like my poetry when it comes to prose. But I hate writing metaphors. I HATE METAPHORS!!!

    So I read it outloud to my sister at 3 am. Because FUCK SLEEP! MY WORK IS MORE FUCKING IMPORTANT! It helped me a lot.

    Thanks for the post man! It was very helpful

  • I’ve been thinking about voice lately too. I don’t think I’ve quite found mine yet.
    I just write what I want to say in the way that feels right.
    This is sometimes very difficult and frustrating because my computer keeps freezing up on me.
    Luckily, if it dies, I do have a dinosaurian replacement in the attic.
    But I digress.
    Thanks for this timely post, Chuck.
    Much appreciated. : )

  • @Sparky-
    That is some cool-ass shit. I dig math.

    And another great list Chuck. I started my blog with the purpose of practicing the craft of writing. I had the leisure and freedom to write anything I wanted, any way I wanted, and was able to try on a lot of different styles to see how they fit on me. Intentionally writing in different specific ways actually helped me develop my voice. And then–
    I went back and re-read the stuff I have entered in your FFCs, and I could see that my voice–which I thought was already developed–had slipped out on me and joined a gym. It started working out, getting leaner and more defined. Of course, it was still a cocky asshole that snapped towels at people in the locker room.

  • I knew I had found my voice when a professional writer friend of mine said, “I like your non-fiction work. I really don’t like your fiction. It doesn’t sound like you.”

    Now if I could only solve the second problem… either that or I lose my voice when it comes to fiction. Which means of course that I must write more of it….

  • Chuck, trust me, you don’t want a set of lady-parts. Balls drop. Simple stuff. Vaginas cramp and freak out and bleed all over the place. There’s nice image…ANYway…

    @Sparky: that is just fucking awesome. Except, I choose not to believe you about Shakespeare and Marlowe…LALALALA NOT LISTENING

    #23 really hit home…I’m not afraid to *write*, but I hate having to tell people that I’m a “writer.” No more…

  • Brilliant post – fast paced, hardcore & straight to the bitter little bone. Acerbic and yet, inspiring. But maybe that’s just me: I like profane amounts of profanity. As for a voice, well… as soon as I clear my throat, slug down a scalding coffee and jam my system full of caffeine, perhaps I’ll find the write words to speak. Or something… right?

  • I still don’t have a clue what a writing voice is regarding film scripts. I think it’s a made up thing that artists use to make themselves sound unique or special.

    I mean when you’re watching the film, who gives a flying foo foo whether the writer wrote

    Jack enters the room

    or

    Jack creeps into the room

    or

    Jack, like a scoulded dog, tentatively enters the room.

  • It’s the fifth time I read this, because this is wonderfully inspiring. I need these reminders, to acknowledge that my voice IS good enough!
    My passion for writing is tremendeous, yet believing in my own voice as a writer has held me back a lot. Thank you for this post! After being here a handful of times, I guess it’s about time I regard you for writing it.
    I added you to my blogroll about two weeks ago, and I don’t regret it. I love your voice!
    Aina in Norway

  • @Sparky — wow

    @Dan — You are not alone.

    @Chuck — Thank you. Great post.
    #15, I love this, love this, LOVE THIS! “You believe things. You know things. You questions things.” So true.

    I am a mommy of a 4 yr old boy — I am so close to quoting Popeye right now.

  • I am laughing. I am crying. Both. At the same time.
    Writing sucks. I love writing.

    Number 22—letting not knowing your voice or not liking it—interfere with the process of just writing. This is where I’ve been trapped for some time. In reality, my voice is irreverent, feisty, edgy and humorous (albeit mostly self deprecating humor). When I write I suddenly seem to be some earnest, grave, boring fact monger. I haven’t been able to figure out how to bridge that gap. Or better yet, to write the way I talk for my creative nonfiction.

    Also, 25 is too much. My poor brain can barely handle lists bigger than 10. Then again, this is a better written list than mine. Dammit. I want to adopt THIS voice!

    • Maybe the voice you want is not right for your fiction – had you considered that? Or at least, it’s not right for the narrative voice/character voice of some of your fiction. Or maybe you are writing the wrong story?

      Whatever, hang in there!

  • I came to this post via http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Self-Editing.html and the Week 3 tutorial by Debi Alper – and was so excited about it that I just tweeted the link… seriously, I read this whilst nodding, laughing out loud and muttering ‘oh, yes!’ It struck a million-and-one chords in my brain. I think this article should be made into a poster and pinned on the wall over every fledgling writer’s desk. As soon as I hit ‘post comment’ I’ll be printing it out…

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