Ask the Editor: Finding Your Voice
Editor Betty Kelly Sargent answers writing questions submitted by readers. This month, she takes a look at how new writers can find their voice.Dear Editor:
How can I find my voice as a writer? —Madeline C.
Your voice is you on the page; it’s that simple. Your thoughts, your feelings, your values, and how you see the world: put them all together and there it is, your voice. You haven’t lost it. It’s right where it’s always been, deep inside you. As an author, you just need to access it.
“Your voice is simply the way you, the writer, project yourself artistically,” write Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall in Finding Your Writer’s Voice. “It is how you write when you don’t have time to be elegant.” The trick is to get in touch with that voice—to recognize it and develop it.
My advice? Practice. Be playful; experiment boldly; keep your prose fresh; avoid clichés; fiddle around with alliteration, metaphors, and similes; make your nouns specific; and steer clear of adverbs.
This is what Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, the author of Mother Tongue, suggests: “Look within, and listen to yourself. Tune out other voices giving you advice. Let go of fear. This is a process, day after day. Remember that you have freedom. Once you identify the unique gift you have to give, the tone, the rhythm, the intensity of your voice will start to speak to you.”
The secret is practice. And the good news is that when you find your voice, you’ll know it. Hallelujah! There it is—just where you suspected it might be the whole time.
Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.