I know: February (and Valentine’s Day) is over, so technically I should have posted this last month. However, this has been on my mind so much that I needed to write it.
You have a voice. Everyone has their own unique voice in whatever they’re doing, their own unique style in how they do things. Take writing for example: some people love to use lots of action and dialogue tags; I like to use lots of imagery and character choreography. In fact, only once I had my novel alpha-read did I realize that I had a writing style.
Whoa, I thought, how did that happen?
Thing is, I’ve always tried to mimic the styles of authors I really like. Of anything I like. I’m probably not the only one who does this. It’s all part of finding your artistic voice.
What if we do too much of this? What if we switch our style every time we see something better than what we’re doing?
What if we’re writing a fantasy book we really like, then see a peer writing a dystopian novel that looks way cooler than our fantasy novel.
Time to write some dystopian?
We get out some paper and start to brainstorm. Nothing comes. We start beating ourselves up for being unable to write something like that.
We’re always comparing ourselves to people, whether we know it or not. Even if it’s just a standard, not a person—-we’re comparing ourselves to that. Are we keeping up with our peers? Are our grades up to standard? Is our writing on track? What are other people doing?
What can we learn from what they’re doing? Can we use their successful strategies to improve our process? Even if we’re not envious of other people, we still try and use other peoples’ strategies to improve our own.
That’s good. You look up to people. You acknowledge their success and admire it.
But can there be too much of that?
I think so.
A good example would be me in choir (yes, me. singing. not so great right now, but I’m working on it. 😉 ). I like to blend my voice with the other singers. Then, come time for me to practice by myself, I realize that I have no clear direction with my own voice. Have I been distracted by everyone else’s voices much?
Can being a writer be the same?
Don’t get me wrong: reading other author’s books and peer’s work is great. It inspires us. But rather than comparing their creative work to ours, why don’t we admire their creativity? Let it inspire us to put our own spin on things? Yes, we can pick up little tricks and tips, but have you ever liked someone else’s novel so much you wished it was yours?
Ouch. That looks bad, but it sounds good.
But do you really want to be a clone of someone else? If you tried to write that novel, do you think you would love it as much as the owner of it does?
You’re unique. No one is the same. We’ve heard it a million times. But it goes beyond the surface, beyond how we live: it goes to how we express ourselves.
Think of all the great authors you know. They’re all so different! Do you think they got that publishing contract by perfectly copying another great author? No! They were unique and true to their own writing voice.
We should strive to do the same.
Because we were each made with different passions and strengths and when we stop stifling them by following the voice of the crowd, that’s beautiful. It’s us. God made you like that. Let. It. Out.
Yeah, it’s hard. All those other amazing voices make ours waver until we’re not sure if it’s ours anymore. Forget about all that. For a moment, just focus on what you and you alone can do.
Write about what you love. Write about what matters to you. Gosh, isn’t that one of the reasons you even sit down and write every day? Because you want to create something as unique and memorable as your favorite authors created? Do it.
Write from your heart.
I got inspired by K.M. Weiland’s post on Monday 😉 How do you stay true to your voice amidst the “crowd voice?” What have you discovered about writing from your heart?