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.
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.
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!
Go forth and be fabulous!