What Is My ‘Voice’ and How Do I Find It?
When we start writing, we’re told we have to find our ‘voice.’
Naturally, we begin looking for it.
It’s not under the pile of unopened mail. And we didn’t leave it like an umbrella in a restaurant. It’s in us. In our words, somewhere. In the mess of our thoughts and feelings as they tumble out onto the page.
Here’s how I think of ‘voice’:
Finding our voice is the combination of our willingness and capacity to feel the things that have happened to us as deeply as we can; with our ability to use the craft of writing to evoke the emotional experience in such a way that others can feel what we felt; with the ability to find a bridge from the utterly personal into the universal (to find a way for our experience to have meaning and significance to a reader).
We know it when we flow onto the page. We are not copying anyone else. We are not lapsing into cliché or sentimentality.
Julia Cameron says, ‘Finding our voice has to do with finding our safety.’ And safety comes from trust. Trusting that what we say has value; that we are not trying to belong to an experience dishonestly.
Your voice will sparkle with your personality – your humour, your insights, your felt experience.
As Mark Nepo, the poet, writes, ‘If I had experienced different things, I would have different things to say.’
Or as Dr Seuss wrote, ‘Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no-one alive who is youer than you.’
Trust yourself. Goethe reminds us, ‘when you trust yourself, you will know how to live,’ How to write too.
Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?