“In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.”
When people talk about voice you usually think of the noise that comes out of your mouth, and of course in part it is.
When someone speaks to you, what do you get a sense of?
- The person
- Pitch and tone
- Something else?
Do you paint a picture in your head, hear sounds, get a feeling or a sense of all of those – what happens for you?
The voice is an amazing instrument and I for one moment couldn’t begin to tell you how it all works. For a short period I was having singing lessons so that I could be a better thinker and speaker. I was amazed with the way in which my voice resonated in different parts of my body, sometimes in my stomach and sometimes bouncing around my skull. I tried to follow it, to understand what it was doing and why. I was encouraged to practise scales and make funny noises with my lips and tongue in strange positions. What amazed me was that I let go of fear and gave it a go.
In finding your voice you also have to let go and just try it. Writing, like life, improves with practice. I always tell my clients ‘first drafts suck, the magic happens in the editing’.
Just put your pen to paper and scribble. Sometimes it will be good, occasionally it will be great, mostly it will be ‘first draft’ material. When I write in my journal, I just let it all hang out, when I reflect I am amazed at what I have written, not always, but often.
Take out what you don’t need
This is back to casting your magic wand over the first draft. Take out the rubbish, edit and be prepared to be amazed.
Write for a range of people
Pick a subject and write for people with a different levels of understanding for your subject. Write it for your target reader and then for someone who you think couldn’t care less about your passion.
Engage your senses
We have five senses, try writing the same passage so that it creates a picture, sound, smell, taste and feeling. What words do you use, what words could you use to bring your writing alive and tempt your voice out from it’s hiding place?
Read your writing aloud
When you read what you have written back to you does it sound like you? We often write in our heads. It will sound very different to you when you speak it aloud, but that’s ok because how we write and talk are meant to different.
Have a go at writing in different genres
Imagine that you were hosting your personal development (or whatever you do) workshop and teaching cowboys (Westerns), spacemen (Sci-fi) or Queens of England (History), how would you write the introduction? Which works for you and why?
What is your point of view?
Do you have a strong opinion about something? Do you care about injustice maybe for dogs, humans or any kind of creature? What would you do and how would you express that view?
Write often and write with passion
The more you practice at anything, the better you get. Pick a subject you are passionate about and let your pen fly, then pick something you know very little about and write with the same passion. Chose a writer you admire, copy their style, how comfortable does that feel? What needs to change to make it yours, so that you are connected to your passion?
All of that is very mechanical. They are exercises, things to try, which will build your confidence and take you a journey of discovery.
Really finding your voice
Voice is so much more than the sounds that you make or the marks on paper, it is connecting your head (thinking and knowing) to your heart (love and life), discovering your truth (learning) and sharing your stories (your legacy), in your way.
And remember when Eliza Doolittle makes a statement for her own dignity against Professor Higgins’ insensitive treatment, it is only then does he start to see her as a creature worthy of his admiration, because “In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.”