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How to Find Your "Voice"

How to Find Your "Voice"

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Published by K.M. Weiland
Voice is one of the most ambiguous, confusing, and highly sought after elements of writing. “How do I find my voice?” is a common question of young writers. And one that even experienced authors aren’t always quite sure how to answer. Everyone seems to have his own opinion on just what voice is. Is it our subject matter? Is it the way we construct sentences? Is it the instinctive tenor of our words—or is it something we have to learn?
Voice is one of the most ambiguous, confusing, and highly sought after elements of writing. “How do I find my voice?” is a common question of young writers. And one that even experienced authors aren’t always quite sure how to answer. Everyone seems to have his own opinion on just what voice is. Is it our subject matter? Is it the way we construct sentences? Is it the instinctive tenor of our words—or is it something we have to learn?

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Published by: K.M. Weiland on Dec 15, 2009
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04/23/2010

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Voice is one of the most ambiguous, confusing, and highly sought afterelements of writing. “How do I find my voice?” is a common question of youngwriters. And one that even experienced authors aren’t always quite sure how toanswer. Everyone seems to have his own opinion on just what voice is. Is it oursubject matter? Is it the way we construct sentences? Is it the instinctive tenorof our words—or is it something we have to learn?Your voice is something that is inherently
you
. It’s rather like a literaryfingerprint. No one of us, no matter how similar our personalities orgeographical or social upbringing, will ever put words on paper in exactly thesame order. There will never be a second Hemingway (though many lit studentslike to attempt it), a second Austen, or a second Vonnegut. Even better, therewill never be a second you. Therefore, the answer to whether or not voice issomething you can learn is both yes and no. Yes, in that your voice will change,mature, and sharpen as you study and grow in the craft. No, in that it issomething inborn within all of us. Katherine Anne Porter wrote, “You do notcreate style. You work and develop yourself; your style is an emanation of yourown being.” In light of this inherency, it’s surprising how many young authors worry aboutfinding their voices. Many of us go through growing spurts in which we attemptto shape our writing to the pattern of one of the masters—and therefore try toforce our own styles to conform to his. We think that if we can learn whatworked in the voices of classic writers, we can reach the same level of success.But the best and truest way to find success is to embrace our own voices. AllenGinsberg and Janet Burroway, respectively, agreed:
www.authorculture.blogspot.comwww.kmweiland.com
How to Find Your “Voice”
 
To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.Renounce that and you get your own voice automatically. Try tobecome a saint of your own province and your own consciousness,and you won’t worry about being heard in
The New York Times
.Voice and point of view are closely intertwined; therefore, it’s thehardest thing to teach. What I mainly do is say, “Don’t worry aboutit. Don’t look for your voice; just say things as clearly and as vividlyas you can say them, and that will be your voice.To first discover your voice and then perfect it, the best thing you can do issimply tackle writing head on. Start putting words on paper, start figuring outwhat works and what doesn’t. But, more than anything, be true to yourself. Digdown inside and don’t put your fingers to the keyboard until you can write froma place of deep honesty. If you can read back over what you’ve written at theend of the page and admit that every word of it is
you
, then allow me tocongratulate you. You’ve found your voice.

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