Over the years, I’ve listened to other writers suggest the nuts and bolts of writing — how and where you publish, the techniques of using social media to get more attention etc - are far more responsible for a writer’s success than the intangible things such as a writer’s voice.
My take on this is is contrarian. What’s inside a writer’s head is often more important to a creative person than what’s in the output stages. Because who you are directly translates into what you do.
In the long run, the “who” you are means far more than the “what” you do.
Here’s a bit of intangible writerly advice.
Develop your own voice. Get comfortable in that voice. A unique writer’s voice is the foundation for success because nobody pays for bland. And you do this by writing. By doing more writing and even more writing. If you don’t type those words out, get a notebook and pen and write them out.
I spend almost every morning, 7 days a week, with such a notebook. The originals for this series were hand written over morning coffee. The notebooks are mostly burned or shredded for garden compost afterwords but page after page of writing start my days.
I do a minimum of 2 pages and I don’t have a maximum. When the ranting/wondering/dreaming/planning words run out (normally around the 20-minute mark) I fire up the word processor.
Each 500-page notebook lasts somewhere between 2 to 3 months but I don’t keep track, I just write.
The key point is that I developed my voice by doing this amount of writing. Persistently. No editing, no do-overs, just words flowing to capture a mood or moment.
The words are not for history or posterity, for printing or for any other use. These are simply ephemeral notes in the morning’s wind.
As an aside, when I sold my first print book, the editor said she “loved my voice.” As a nurseryman writing in the mornings before heading out to the plants, I had absolutely no idea what a “voice” was or even why I should want one. But as soon as this person said she loved it, I was determined to figure it out and make it mine.
Here’s How You Get A Voice.
For a time, it was quite fashionable to say you need 10,000 of hours to become proficient at any given skill. While current thinking suggests this isn’t really true, let me suggest a simple way to create your voice. How long this will take you is up to you and your practice.
It’s not sexy and, sadly, there is no miracle key to instant success.
Writer + coffee + notebook + pen + thousands of words + dozens of notebooks = voice.
Doug is a full time writer living on an island in the Kingston, Ontario, Canada region of the 1000 Islands in the summer and Savannah, GA, USA for the winters.