Friday, January 7, 2011

Sometimes, you just gotta dig!



We talked yesterday about what it is and why we need it so badly. Occasionally, it goes missing. Perhaps we use it too much and it gets tired. Perhaps we don't use it enough and it gets weak. Whatever reason, writers have times, early in their careers, when their unique voice packs a sack lunch and heads off into the Rockies without a forwarding address.

What do we do? How do we find it?

I'm not so sure how you're going to take my answer, but I'm going to give it to you anyway.

You write.

Lost voice? Write it to find it.

I told someone today that I lose my voice several times in every story I write. I go off on tangents, wander down rabbit trails, chase pirates. Inevitably, I end up back where I started, wondering where my voice went.

What do I sound like? Not Stephen or J.K. or Ted. What do I sound like? Not Madeleine, not James, not Orson or Oscar. Me. Jennifer.
The best way I've found to return to my voice is to park my backside in a chair and write. Notice I said "return to my voice". We tend to be the ones who leave, who deviate from our true nature.


I don't think it's done deliberately, at least, not most of the time. In response to one comment I got from yesterday, I replied that I think we try to emulate others because we respect their brilliance and their success. And there's nothing wrong with trying on a few different writing hats now and then. Nor is there anything wrong with having more than one voice (I have several. The talk to me often, usually at the same time. It gets rather confusing.) The best thing for us to do is to create our own brilliance, have confidence in that brilliance, and forge our own success.

To do that, we must write.

I mean, write with all the passion and guts and desperation you have in you. Pull out a note pad and some pens and just write. Shut yourself away and type furiously about whatever pops in your mind. Spit it out until you pick it up, wipe off the blood and sweat and say, "Wow. That's me?"

Yep. That's you.

The real you. YOUR unique, authentic voice.

The trick is to keep it.

Trust me, it is a trick and sometimes I have to just sit down and write a bunch of gibberish until I fall into my voice. When that happens, you'll know. You feel a sense of peace and ease with your words. They flow. They may not be perfect, but they're yours and once out, you can manipulate them however they need to go.

Try it.

Next time you feel your voice has gone flat (or south), write your guts out and see what happens. You may just find that you caught up with your voice on that lonely trail. And you'll get to see some great scenery along the way!

Happy weekend!

Go forth and be fabulous!


  1. This is such good advice! I lose my voice often as I'm writing, and it's always such a pain to get back on track, but well worth it!

  2. This was very encouraging. I've dealt with not just losing my "vox" as a writer, but also losing the time to do the writing. I've just re-revved up my blog as well, so I'm excited for you and I to keep up with each other through our blogs too! Thanks for a great writing.

  3. I'm definitely going to take this advice in the future.

  4. What I discovered in the past year to recognize my voice was to write something really familiar to me or something that happened to me. But I think we are on the same lines because when we "Just write your guts out" we usually end up writing stuff that is close to us or a vivid memory. And writing it out fast - not stopping to censor yourself - writing it as you are thinking it...

    That being said, I definitely picked up on your "Voice" as you were writing about voice - grin :)

  5. Great advice! There are times when my voice just doesn't want to talk. I respect that individuality, to a point. When I return to the keyboard, Voice knows to squeak up!


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.