have you found your voice?

Advice to inexperienced authors often includes “find your voice.” How do the advice-givers suggest you do this? Through writing. Writing, writing and more writing. I’ve also seen blogging as a suggestion since it tends to have an informal tone. I’ve been placing a good bit of trust in this advice, and I’m starting to feel that I must be bland or broken.

I’ve been blogging on and off for years and have been fairly regular for the past seven months. That seems like a reasonable amount of time to have “found my voice.” Yet I don’t feel like I’ve made any noticeable improvements in having a personality in my writing. The changes I can think of are ones of formatting and technicality, of post length and quote design and topic selection. I’m a teasing, morbid cynic offline, but I don’t see that coming through in my writing. I recently visited a writerly blog that was overflowing with biting sarcasm. It resonated with me. The tone was more pessimistic than I feel, but I wished that my posts read like it. Wit just sparking off the screen at you.

Right now I’m going on the assumption that I have a voice somewhere inside of me and I’m not a reflecting pool that initially looked like a deep well but, oh, nope, it’s shallow, an illusion. I’d like to fancy myself the opposite. So avoidant of conflict that it looks calm on the surface, but the water sinks deep into an abyss full of monsters and currents. With that conceit in mind, I’ve come up with three hypotheses for why I’m not seeing substantial voice development.

  1. Avoiding conflict is so ingrained in me that I recede away from writing anything that could be interpreted as offensive or controversial in a forum where others can reply to me on any of my linked social media accounts. Any character or opinions become so watered down as to be invisible.
  2. While I write about things that interest me, I don’t write about what is most interesting to me, my Every Day. This was originally a much more personal blog, but I felt that left it scattered and a bit whiny. So much blog advice advocates making your blog targeted, less confusing, let people know what you’re about immediately and that’s what you stick to. But that’s boring. That’s so so boring. Moving away from what inspires me every day and forcing myself into stricter paths makes my writing more artificial which impedes voice development.
  3. Blogging just isn’t the right format for me.

I’m not a fan of that last one because it only gives a what and not a why. I’m looking for Why’s! While I don’t think there’s much I’m going to do about #1 right now, I can work on #2. There may be another overhaul of my site in the future. I’m quite pleased with the layout, but menus, topics, categories, all that jazz may need a good sit down and think.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong all around. Maybe I have developed voice and the root problem is that I don’t actually recognize voice. If you learn to recognize voice by reading and noticing, then I may have to go back to the author I’ve read the most and study his work for stylistic quirks. Looks like there might be some Terry Pratchett in my future.

How did you develop your voice? What do you feel is your vocal signature, the things that make your voice unique?

 

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