Showing posts with label identity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label identity. Show all posts

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Who Am I? Finding Your Writers Voice

I remember listening to a tape recording many years ago. The speaker, Mike Warnke, was sharing of his experience as a new Christian and speaker. He determined to be the very best . . . and studied the top speakers in the field.

He imitated Billy Graham as he thundered out an evangelical message. 

He spoke with the authority and passion of Kathryn Kuhlmann, as he preached to the sick and invited them to come forward for healing. 

He urged people to step out in faith in the style of Oral Roberts. Yet he had little or no response.

One day, in frustration, he asked the Lord, "Why don't I get results when I preach?"

To this, he said, the Lord replied, "I don't know. Who are you?"

We can laugh, but isn't that what we do as writers? We long for the inspirational writing ability of Karen Kingsbury, the gift of story telling of Jerry Jenkins and the creativity of J.K.Rowling. We try to use the poetic prowess of Helen Steiner Rice, the tension-creating techniques of Brandilyn Collins and the light-hearted approach of Max Lucado (voted best Christian Writer of 2009*). 

And we wonder why we don't get results!

Each one of us have our own abilities and gifts. We have strengths unique to our own writing style, and we have weaknesses. When we compare ourselves to other writers, we have no hope. We can't be as good as them. Chances are we won't make the same mistakes as them either. We can't write like them. We're not them.

As you read, admire the writing style of the author, but don't try to copy it. Develop your own style. Find your own voice.

Here are some suggestions:

Study writing techniques. Learn all you can. Put what you learn into practice. Find out what works for you--and what doesn't. Then have the freedom to use the techniques in ways that suit what you're trying to say.

Write. And write. And write. The more you write, the more you will develop your own techniques and voice. Don't try to say it like some great author would. Say it like you. Free write. Put your pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard, and go flat out. Don't stop for a break. Just get those words out.

Edit and polish your work until it's the best you can do. Put it to one side while you work on something else. Then come back to it. Read it aloud. Does it flow? Does it sound natural? Is this the way people talk? Most importantly, is it how you talk?

Look for advice, critiques, and professional input. You will never get to a point where you don't make mistakes. You will never become a writer who doesn't need an editor. The greatest writers are those who recognise their need for critique and are open to suggestions. Gather a group of people who are prepared to offer that advice. Join an existing critique group, or form your own on-line support group.

Choose the best time for you. Figure out what are the best hours, the time you are most productive, and write during those hours. Do the mundane tasks of writing, and there are many, during the other times. 

Read in the genre you want to write. As you soak in books by experienced authors in your field, you will start to pick up techniques and tricks you enjoy--and learn what you don't. 

Write for an audience. And that audience is you. Write stories you want to read. Write articles that will help you. Describe scenes you enjoy reading about. Create characters that bring you pleasure.

Enjoy your writing. If it becomes a drudge, put it away. Do something else. Start another project. Go for a walk. Do some gardening. If you force your voice when you're singing, you'll lose it. And when you start to force your words, you'll lose your writer's voice. 

Finally: 
Aim to become the best writer you are capable of being.

And always remember: There are millions of writers in the world today. But there is only one you.

Over to you: Who are you? What is your real writing heart? Share an answer below and help us hear your very own heartbeat.


Further reading on the subject of voice:

SHIRLEY CORDER  lives a short walk from the seaside in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, with her husband Rob. She is author of Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer. Shirley is also contributing author to ten other books and has published hundreds of devotions and articles internationally. 

Visit Shirley on her website to inspire and encourage writers, or on Rise and Soar, her website for encouraging those on the cancer journey. 

Follow her on Twitter or "like" her Author's page on Facebook, and if you tell her who you are she may even follow you back.

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