A writer’s voice is that often intangible yet unmistakable something that defines the author’s work. Like literary DNA, it is as unique and complex as a fingerprint. Syntax, diction, dialog, and punctuation are combined with characterization techniques, scene delivery, and other stylistic elements and then distilled into an elixir that lets us see the world through the writer’s eyes.
But there is more to it than that.
The way a writer uses words to shape a story is only the tip of the iceberg. The true essence of a writer’s voice lies far beneath the surface. It is less craft and more courage – less ink and more blood. The text on the page is nothing more than the corporeal manifestation of the very spirit that drives the writer to write. The true voice of a writer is the nameless fire that burns inside, turning up the heat, licking at mind and heart until it becomes unbearable to wait even a single moment longer before putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard.
This is the voice you need to listen to.
This is the voice you need to release into the world.
Like your words on the page, this inner voice, this internal fire is yours and yours alone. It may share certain aspects of other writers’ voices, but its particular alchemy cannot be replicated. It came into the world with you and was shaped – violently, subtly, irrevocably – by the journey of your life. Every story you consumed, every experience you enjoyed or endured, every doubt and dream and question became part of your writer’s voice.
Like the audible voice of a singer, a writer’s voice can lie silent for a long time before bursting into the world. And like the singer’s instrument, the writer’s voice must be trained. It must be opened up. Before a singer can perform, she must ground herself, find her stance, and learn to breathe properly. She must be practiced in the art of listening, and willing to spend hours rehearsing a single note, over and over again. Before a singer can let loose with her song, she must find clarity and develop confidence. She must learn the art of interpretation so that she can make every song her own.
So it is with a writer’s voice.
Your voice is not only how you tell your story, it is the story you choose tell. The story you must tell. It is the reason you write. It is the fiery truth that burns in your heart. Your writer’s voice is not merely a matter of grammar and word choice. It is the ache to know, to understand, and to connect. It is, perhaps, the reason you are here at all. Each of us has something to say, something to share. Each of us has a piece of the puzzle that is life. Dancers dance, singers sing, painters paint, parents parent, lovers love, and you – you write with your irrepressible, inimitable writer’s voice.
This is your story. This is your responsibility. Do not stay silent for too long.
If you’d like to, you can listen to this post.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Image Credit: Navy Blue Stripes