Finding Your Voice

I used to live in the desert and drink from the Well of Right Words. One day, I walked until I found an unexpected oasis. Now I sip phrases from succulent fruit and inhale ideas carried by a wind that blows from beyond imagination.

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People often talk about writers “finding their voice,” as if it’s a lost pet that ran out the door when someone carelessly left it open. We all have a voice, right? We speak. People understand us. But finding your voice as a writer can be a daunting task. You write a short story in the same way you talk, and it falls flat. You create a poem about your lost love and it sounds like a million others you’ve read.

There’s lots of advice out there for tapping into your unique writer’s voice. I just did a Google search on the subject and found many helpful tips: read a lot, imitate writers you admire, write the way you speak, be willing to write badly, don’t censor yourself, write about what you’re passionate about, write about what you’re afraid of…the list goes on.

Though I believe we’re all different and each have our own journey, I want to share my experience here. For me, finding my voice was simply a matter of writing. And writing. Then writing some more. I wrote all the time. I learned to write from my heart. I went where my writing took me, even when it seemed stupid or pulled me in the opposite direction I’d been intending to go. I did massive amounts of freewriting. I took classes and joined workshops. I wrote fiction, poetry, essays, experimental pieces, journal entries and more. I read authors I admired and noticed how they put words together in ways I found interesting.

And then I wrote some more.

Finally, one day, I knew I’d found my voice. I just knew it, the way you always know the most profound things in your life, if you let yourself. I felt it deep inside.

How did you find your voice as a writer? Or what are you doing to find it?

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

3 Responses to “Finding Your Voice”

  1. 1 heather January 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I found my voice as a writer much like you did Sandy-lots of writing. I also did a lot of free writing where I allowed deep and uncensored thoughts to surface. I am most satisfied with my writing when I look at what I have written and say to myself “where did that come from?” and “That’s exactly what I want to say about that”. I find this is happening more and more as I write. Other people’s feedback seems less important as well – I just put it out there and see what happens. Since I found my voice I have lost all of my former attachment to my writing. When I found my voice something powerful kicked in and it was as though all fragments and elements came together and my world started to make a lot more sense. I am happier and calmer.

  2. 2 K a b l o o e y January 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Hmmm. Between your post and Heather’s comment, I’m reevaluating whether I actually have found my writer’s voice. Because I don’t think I’ve put in the work. Then again, one’s voice would necessarily evolve, wouldn’t it? The reason I ask is because I think I still do what I did as a kid — think about the reader and try to surprise them. It’s still very driven by a desire for praise, I think. I just figured out over the years what seems to work best for me (adding humor, being as honest as I can). And the older I get, the more honest I’m willing to be because I’m more accepting of my own flaws. Again, hmmm.

  3. 3 stranglingmymuse January 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Heather and Kablooey. I really meant it when I said we each have our own journey, and I don’t think there’s one way to find your voice. When I speak about finding my voice, I’m talking primarily about my fiction-writing voice, which I found many years before starting this blog. My blogging voice is more similar to the way I speak (but not identical). Kablooey, you have a strong, recognizable voice in your blog, which is the only writing of yours I’ve read. Heather, your process sounds more similar to mine, and I have the same experience of being surprised by things I’ve written. I find hearing about other peoples’ creative process fascinating, so thanks again for sharing here!

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