Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finding your inner voice

To a singer, vocal timbre is everything. To a writer, however, it’s the inner voice. Not the ramblings in your head that stream endless reactionary conversation. This is much deeper. It’s the voice that whispers when we’re insecure, that comes up with what we really should have said, the one that has power.We keep it safely locked away only for trusted ears to hear, or we never share it at all. These words bite, spit, cry, lament; they show who we really are.

In Finding your Writer's Voice, Frank and Wall write "...raw language often contains the seeds of vision—the unique way that each writer sees the world—and that vision inspires language. In this way voice and vision are inseparable ...".

Trying to find true inner thoughts can be difficult. It requires listening, and who has time to just be silent and reflect? Patience is needed, but finding a way gives you the ability to hear your imagination. The book suggests a few externally motivated ideas (such as cross-dress and then write), and I have to admit I’ve tried them all, but my absolute favorite is the suggestion to free write in the dark. 

Composers centuries ago knew that their best work came in the wee hours of the morn. Beethoven even went so far as to write on his bed sheets. Today, we know the reason is because creativity is at its peak when brain waves are slow. I get up every morning at five, turn on the computer, and before even getting a cup of coffee or a shower I free write. I don’t allow myself to look at the text, to go back and revise. I write whatever comes to mind. The real fun comes a week later when I read what I actually wrote. Sometimes it’s just gibberish, sometimes a rant, and honestly most of the time I don’t remember thinking of the subject matter, but the raw voice is very much there. Nora's story was born in a free write one morning after my daughter and I talked about how great it would be to live in a world without evil. Very little of that first writing is actually in the book (other than a small description of the wooded area by the portal), but the spirit of the novel was based on this premise.

Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Walls sum it up nicely. "You can learn the concepts of craft by taking classes and reading books. But you won't know how to work with them and they won't have concrete meaning unless you discover them in the outpourings of your own voice."