Thoughts on voice

The post below was started months ago and has sat dormant in my drafts folder. I’m sharing it now and incorporating a few additional thoughts related to where I am today.


I’m a week into an 8-week online writing course. Yesterday, my homework was to think about my writing voice. The first portion was to write a few keywords that describe my voice as it is today. The second half was to think about what I want my voice to be, keeping in mind that it needs to be unique to me and authentic.

I found this to be a loaded exercise. My brain is already aswirl with thoughts of how many pieces of me are there? What pieces are there that I haven’t accessed or discovered yet? What possibilities in me have I ignored or actively suppressed?

I was discussing my assignment last night with Paul. As we talked, one of the aspects of this work that came up was… how willing am I to follow the different pieces of me that I explore? For example, my voice has been traditionally more of a kind-sweet-best-friend-with-friendly-suggestions-or-advice voice. There have been rewards to having that voice. But what might happen if there is an angry voice that surfaces? Or, a prickly or snarky voice? The question becomes, as both an artist and a woman committed to growing and expanding my understanding of who I am… am I willing to follow that and see where it goes?

It’s not a coincidence that I came across, again, this timely reminder by Anaïs Nin:

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.

I am thinking about how courageous I’m willing to be in my personal life, in my art, and in my writing.  Logically, as I discover and uncover more aspects of myself, my writing voice, my art, and my life will begin to become a natural expression of those things as well.  My instructor has suggested that we allow for trial and error as we investigate and work on honing our voice. He also said, to be an effective communicator, our voice needs to be an intersection of what makes us passionate and what connects with and brings value to our audience.  That seems like good advice for writing. Does it hold true when thinking about how I am creating myself in my life as well? I certainly have a desire to bring value to those who I meet in my life. Do I have to create value for them? I suppose not. We can lose ourselves in an attempt to be meaningful for other people. That said, there’s a deeper philosophical and existential conversation to be had, on this point, that I won’t dive into here.

**Here I will add that this conversation as taken on a new wrinkle due to where we are today in our country.  These questions are now large and small in scope. Who am I? What am I committed to? What voice will I lift?

So on a personal, creative (and now socio-political) level, is this something you think about? How do you approach it? It’s a lot for me to think about and is requiring some discipline on my part. It’s worthy work though and I’m committed to it.