The Writer’s Toolbox – Who Am I, Really?

Writing is personal.

Sometimes It’s personal in content, like a journal or memoir?or sometimes there are personal aspects, like a character who goes through a painful experience similar to something in your own history. Then there’s the catharsis that can come from getting confused or angry or sad thoughts onto paper, and the vindication you feel when you turn your real-life nemesis into your story’s villain. And who can ignore the hours of proverbial blood, sweat, and tears that go into a writing project you pour your heart and soul into?

But I’m talking about a different kind of personal.

The writer’s voice
It’s not just what you put on that paper or screen, It’s how you put it?and that how, that personal style, is a part of you, a reflection of you, an aspect of you that You’re sharing with the world. That’s your own personal writing voice, and It’s as unique to you as your fingerprints.

Unlike your fingerprints, though, your voice isn’t static?and that can be a tremendous source of confusion and frustration.

Who am I, really?
Among writers, the idea of a personal voice or style is so highly valued that It’s easy to become overprotective of your voice, stifling your growth. At the same time, beginning writers might feel overwhelmed by all the “one best way to write” articles and find themselves grasping for something, anything, with which they can prove themselves in the writing world.

The solution to both is experimentation?and time.

Try something old
Developing your personal style is like the process of evolution; it takes a long time to accomplish, and it happens through trial and error.

Beginning writers often try to mimic a favourite author’s style, and though you might someday cringe at your attempts (I certainly do at mine!), that kind of experimentation can be a good way to start the creative process. It’s also helpful when You’re not sure how to write your way into a new genre or audience.

The key is not to worry about creating something new, but to free yourself to explore your writing voice within safe boundaries. Can you write Shakespeare-style? Can you put together a Grisham-esque scene? Try it and see?but don’t become so starstruck that you fear your own personal voice, either. Treat your experimentation as a conversation with your writer side rather than a firm directive on How You Must Write.

Try something new
It’s normal to feel protective of your voice, rejecting anything that might change or influence the way you create. It’s normal to want to churn out masterpieces right off the bat. But loosening up a little is another good way to allow yourself to grow and develop your style, especially if You’re an experienced writer?or an overanxious one.

To get past some of your personal writing hang-ups, do a bit of freewriting, or writing without thinking about the result. This means no self-editing?and no judgment. No worrying about whether It’s you enough. If You’re really stuck, try your hand at a completely different genre, mood, or theme than You’re used to working with.

The voice within
Your writing voice makes your writing unique, so give it the space it needs to grow and solidify. Over time you’ll find yourself a more flexible writer?with a stronger, more versatile personal voice That’s still identifiable as your own.

Christina M. Frey is a book editor, literary coach, and lover of great writing. For more tips and techniques for your toolbox, follow her on Twitter (@turntopage2) or visit her blog.

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