Some of my favorite writers include Chuck Wendig, John Scalzi, Catherynne Valenti, Delilah S. Dawson and Wil Wheaton. What they all have in common is they also write great essays, blogs and tweets that people respond to. They are able to express thoughts and emotions with so much potent energy that it’s impossible to NOT read, because they also keep it interesting.
In Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds, he defines voice as follows: “The writer’s voice is the thing that marks the work as a creation of that writer and that writer ONLY. You read a thing and you say, “This could not have been written by anybody else.” THAT is voice.
He further states “It’s also a component of practice and maturity.”
That’s the part that hurt the most to read. I already knew this. In fact, I’ve experienced that in my creative life.
I’ve been a graphic designer for over twenty years. I know about artistic voice. I understand that these things take time and effort. In my case, it takes constant time and effort. To get to where I am today, I’ve had to grind for a long time. In fact, sometimes I still feel like I’m grinding. For me, graphic design is a constant creative struggle, but I’ve found ways to punch through and persevere, with (mostly) positive results.
So, why do I feel like finding my writing voice so difficult?
My fiction, my prose, my blogs… there’s a lack of substance, emotion, punch, zeal, authenticity, anything to make it interesting. Even in the handful of articles that have been published, I feel like I could have done a better job of making it more interesting. Granted, in those cases, my editors were a big help.
Mr. Wendig also states that we mimic our writer influences, because we write like those writers we most frequently read. Eventually we stop doing that, but their influence can still exist in our writing, and that’s okay. I know that I don’t write like Chuck, or Mr. Scalzi, or Ms. Valenti, but they have certainly been influential.
So, this is why I’m here: to sharpen my writing teeth (is that a thing?) To spurt out this boring garbage in the hopes that someday when I write, my true self will emerge, and I won’t have these thoughts of “how does Scalzi do it!?” …and just let my voice flow on the page.
Time, effort, and confidence. We’ll get there. Hopefully.