In writing, tone and voice go hand in hand. With tone, I was able to offer a straightforward explanation. But voice is a different matter. Put simply, if tone is your writing attitude, then voice is your writing personality. It's you being yourself on the page rather than trying to write like your favorite authors, although their influence will, no doubt, be present.
If that's it, voice should be easy, right? In theory perhaps, but why do so many new writers have trouble “finding their voice”? That depends on each writer and what he/she is trying to accomplish. Perhaps you are trying to imitate your favorite bloggers because their style has made them so successful, or maybe you're attempting to write like one of your genre's best-selling authors because “that's what publishers want.” Or it could be that you just need more experience. As I said, everyone has their reasons for struggling.
Finding Your Writer's Voice
Ultimately, like any other aspect of writing, you find and perfect your voice by sitting down and stringing words together into a story, poem, blog post, or article. Your writer's voice will start to surface when you ignore your inner critic and let the words flow.
1. Trust Your Writing Instincts
Are you willing to tackle a theme you're passionate about? Would you take risks in a story when your creative instincts are leading you in that direction? I've struggled with this too. Is it too strange? Too bold? Reaching beyond your comfort zone and taking risks will help your writer's voice.
2. Remember the Rules of Good Writing
Just because you are developing your writer's voice does not mean you can forget the rules of good writing. Sure, you may be able to bend and even break a few here and there, but ultimately they still apply. The more comfortable you are with the rules of good writing, the more your voice will shine within their boundaries.
3. Do Not Compare Your Voice to Others
It's tempting, especially since writers inevitably are readers as well. So whether it's your favorite author or one of your writing buddies, do not compare voices. They will be different, and remember that those you emulate also had to work to find their voices too.
4. Let Envy Work for You Rather Than against You
While too much envy can hurt you, let your jealousy inspire you instead. Let your desire for the same success others are experiencing drive you to work harder toward finding your voice and achieving your own writing goals.
Ultimately, it's about writing and putting yourself into it. Yes, you'll feel vulnerable, but if you see your voice as a stilted imitation of another, no doubt your audience will too. Write from the heart.
So how has your week been? With editing work and computer problems forcing me to move to another machine, this week has been a bit stressful. But I managed to keep up with this blog regardless (my other one wasn't so lucky, but I already have an editorial calendar set up for both next week to get me back on track). So I hope your week was a bit more productive on the writing front. So let's see what the web has to offer for this week.
You Can Use the 5 Laws of Writing Magnetic Blog Headlines Right Now: Headlines and/or titles are key in most media, but with blogs, it's even more so. When your reader searches for a topic, thousands of hits are often the result. Your headline needs to be able to compete with the others to grab your audience's attention. This article discusses how to do that.
Literary Devices: Foreshadowing: This post from Fantasy Faction gives some suggestions for incorporating foreshadowing elements in your fantasy story. Some of it can be applied to other genres as well, so even if you don't write fantasy, you may want to take a look.
7 Ways to Double What You Get Done Each Day: Not enough can be said about the importance of productivity. This article shares some helpful advice to increase your output. And don't forget to take breaks. It doesn't help to get a lot done if you burn yourself out to the point of being sick and hence useless for a few days at least. (Trust me. I've done this.)
7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower: I prefer to practice what I preach on this blog, but I am human. I needed this article badly this week, or maybe I just needed more willpower. If you need some help with this as well, these tips from The Write Practice will help get you writing when everything seems to be conspiring against you. Some of these are tips I've recommended as well as a few that I'll have to try.
Have a productive Friday and a great weekend!
Holidays, and the days leading up to them, are rife with noise. And I'm not talking about loud neighbors or the phone ringing constantly either, although that may be part of the problem. What I'm referring to is one of the creativity crushers: distractions. Gifts and meals to prepare, relatives calling, extra errands to run, how does one manage to get anything done around holidays, especially major ones like Christmas or (in this case) Easter? With the added stress that comes with holidays or perhaps something more hectic (financial problems, family or personal illness, loss of a loved one, etc.), could this increase the possibility that you won't feel like writing?
After all, a focused, inspired mind is brimming with ideas and ready to create, but stressed-out, overworked, grumpy mind can be disastrous to writing. I can relate to this. And I understand that it's not a shortage of ideas, but lack of energy and enthusiasm with everything else that's going on.
So what do you do when you don't feel like writing? Do you set it aside rather than having your joy become drudgery? Or do you force yourself to do it to maintain the creative momentum? At one time, I probably would have opted to set it aside, but once that starts, it can become too comfortable putting writing off indefinitely.
So what should you do when you don't feel like writing?
1. Show up
I've found that once I sit down and get started, the “I don't want to” feeling goes away. But perhaps time is an issue, especially with holiday and family responsibilities. In that case, reschedule your time. Even a shorter session is better than none at all.
2. Try something different
Sometimes you need a change. If you're working on a novel, try a poem or short story. Perhaps you usually write at home. Have you considered grabbing your laptop and doing your writing from the library? Do you usually type? Perhaps you should consider writing part of your first draft by hand. You can always type it up when things are less stressful.
3. Set a timer
This is especially for those experiencing time issues. Set a timer and get busy writing. If it isn't good, that's fine. That's what the revising and editing phases are for. Just get some writing done so you have something to revise.
I've discussed rewards before because they can help keep you motivated during times when you're not feeling like writing otherwise. After reaching a certain milestone, go out for coffee. For a bigger one, plan an evening out with a friend or significant other. Make the reward something you'll look forward to.
Ultimately, don't stress. That will turn your writing experience into drudgery, and you may not get much on the page. If you are too stressed, reschedule your writing time. And if it's a holiday or family get-together you're preparing for, enjoy the process and the time with your loved ones. If you're dealing with something more difficult, let your writing be your time of solitude and walk away at the end of your session with that sense of accomplishment. You deserve it.
Have you ever noticed that there never seems to be enough time? If you don't have a list of calls to make or clients to follow up with, you are probably behind on that pile of laundry or have a pile of unwashed dishes awaiting your attention. And worst of all, you have no time to write. I will admit that while I can make time to write an article or a critique for a client manuscript,when things get busy, my creative writing suffers severe neglect.
So what's a writer to do? With all the demands of building a career, maintaining a household, and caring for a family, how does one find the time for creative pursuits?
First of all, you need to admit that you will never have enough time to do all of the things that you want to do. If writing is your passion, you have to make it a priority. And while you can't “manage time” in the strictest sense, you can manage your use of it.
1. Look at how you are using your time. If you are not sure where in your day time is being wasted, keep a log of how you spend an average day or week. How much time are you spending on Facebook or Twitter? Can you cut back on how much television you watch? Are these things you need to be doing, or are you procrastinating? If you truly are busy, consider getting up earlier. If you don't write well in the morning, you can finish some other chores in the morning and write at time that's better for you.
2. Plan as much of your time as possible. Make lists—weekly lists, monthly lists, daily lists. Think on paper. If you don't write it down, it will probably fall by the wayside if something else comes up. Whether you use a pen and paper, a smart phone, or an electronic tablet, record all of your tasks, preferably in the order of their importance. Add writing to your list. Whether you choose to write daily or on certain days during the week, schedule writing as a priority.
3. Can you delegate? This is especially true for household responsibilities. If you are married or live with a significant other, perhaps you can ask your loved one to take on a few more of the household chores to leave you with time to write.
4. Break up longer projects into smaller chunks. This may seem obvious, but writing a 100,000 word novel can seem overwhelming when you are starting out. As I said in my post about writing goals, set a long-term goal and short-term ones for bigger projects. Plan to write 300 or 500 words a day, depending on what your schedule allows.
5. Once you've set the schedule, sit down and write. Whether you've planned to write an article, short story, or 500 words for a novel, you need to take that time you set aside and write. There really is no replacement for this part. Sit down and don't get up until you're finished.
Yes, this is a challenge, but if you want to achieve your writing goals, planning your writing time and keeping the schedule is the best way to assure success. Trust me. I understand how easy it is to get overwhelmed during busy times, to become immersed in a distraction, or to make excuses. But don't let it happen to you.
So what are you waiting for? You should be writing already.
This is a borderline personal post. It seems appropriate for a few reasons. First of all, to be able to help others, I should make improving my performance a priority. Second, for most people, this is the last day off from the holiday season before returning to work. So I'll keep it short and light and leave readers time to spend with the people in their lives who matter most.
In any event, while browsing the blogosphere, I eventually found a link to Chris Brogan's blog post challenging people to come up with three words to define their goals and experiences in the coming year. As a writer, this automatically resonated with me. I have goals for multiple areas of my life: business, writing, health, personal, etc., so I should choose three words that encompass all of my goals and apply to all areas of life.
I'm posting these not only for personal reasons but to inspire you along your path as well. For me, I need to stop worrying about what isn't done and act. So I chose three verbs:
Plan: As a Sagittarius, I love to improvise. Spontaneity has always been something I held dear, and it definitely still has its place. However, when there's a lot to do and a limited time to accomplish everything, planning and prioritizing are indispensable. When I fail to plan, I find the activities I love most, like creative writing, fall by the wayside. Plan writing time.
Focus: This follows right on the heels of planning. It's hard to accomplish anything when you have too many distractions demanding your attention. Remaining focused on what's important is the best way to get the job done. Whether I'm editing a client manuscript or working on a personal writing project, concentrating on the task and what I need to do to complete it. So what are the areas that require your focus?
Create: Obviously, as a writer, this word is important to me, but the word create can be applied in all areas of life. Creating is taking action. Since our decisions and actions create our reality, we should be doing this consciously rather than responding to the reality that others envision for us. Take a leading role in the creation of your life. Create something that wasn't there before—an article, a novel, an essay, a poem. Write everyday.
Use these three words to inspire you, and then choose your own.
Which ones did you choose? By all means, share.