1. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Finding your voice as a writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dizzyspell, Apr 13, 2011.

    Ok, so I've spent the last couple of days reading over all the short stories I wrote last year, and doing a bit of editing.

    I've kind of reached the conclusion that everything I write reads as if a 14 year old wrote it. In fact, I'm pretty sure my 'voice' was more mature at 14 than it is now (though my storylines and characters are substantially better than they used to be). I used to get in trouble in high school because my essays sounded like short stories. Since starting uni, everything I have written has come off as dry and factual. I feel like I've forgotten how to really 'write' and it, quite frankly, sucks.

    I'm hoping that as I mature my style does, too, but I feel like as evolves, I actually enjoy my stories less.

    So my question really goes out to the older writers out there, did you go through a phase like this before you found your own 'voice'?
    And how did everyone go about developing a style that was well and truly your own, and that you like? Did you have a method, or did it just happen?
     
  2. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Just keep working and don't worry about it. 'Voice' is an abstract sort of thing you can't pin down or track until you already just sort of have it.

    In just about every writer I've worked with I've seen a common trend where their early work is raw, but inspired and has 'voice' and 'vibe' and stuff like that, because it's coming out organically. Then, as the writer learns and studies fiction, their work actually gets worse, because they're so focused on what they're doing it almost kills that vibe and voice and becomes overly technical and sterile. The writers that stick it out, though, eventually get to a point where they don't have to consciously worry about technical stuff, it just comes naturally, and then the voice and vibrancy and all the intangible stuff like that starts to show back up.

    So, yeah, don't worry about it and just keep working through it. If you're writing, you're making progress, and some day it'll all click back into place.
     
  3. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    Thank you! Haha, that was pretty much exactly what I was hoping to hear!
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I was in the same boat very, very recently (as in just a few months ago), and I guess to some degree I'm still the same. I remember when I was in Middle School, and even coming into High School, I would just write - sure, I knew even then that my stories were juvenile and stupid, but I wrote anyways. Towards the end of High School, and coincidentally as my stories became much more structured, serious, and, well, better, for lack of better wording, I ironically put my writing on hiatus, because everything always seemed so adolescent and stupid despite the subject matter, so of course I couldn't take my own horrid writing, and I sort of became dormant.

    However, very recently, due to an odd chain of events, I'm trying to start up my writing again, taking it very slow and easy so that there's lots of room to maneuver so the writing isn't as much as a chore as it was for me when I was trying to make everything "perfect" - for instance, I'm working on a much simpler and down-to-earth story without too many "deep" or serious elements.


    Also, as many writers have told me, writing is really about rewriting - it's better to write a really crappy first draft and then patch it up and then make it perfect, then struggle to make a "perfect" first draft with, say, a "perfect" voice.
     
  5. prisonchild
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    prisonchild Member

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    if ive learned anything about subconscience its that you can't change the voice in your writing unless you change yourself. a more confident person will have a more confident voice, etc.

    and to what popsicledeath said, i was like that too when i started i had an influx of ideas which were all creative but they were articulated terribly. now, as i have studied the technicalities of writing my articulation is better but i am so focused on structure and what else have you that my creativity is nowhere near before. or, maybe i should just hit the tabs again
     
  6. East
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    East Member

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    Write a novel where the narrator is a 14 year old.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I remember when I was a teenager and trying to learn to sing. I wanted to be everyone from Elton John to Bob Seger to Roger Daltrey to Van Morrison. I couldn't do it, so, even though my technique was improving, I was always disappointed. Eventually I listened to my mom's opera records and I tried to be Pavarotti - fat chance!

    But as I got older, I realized that I'm stuck with my singing voice and there's nothing I can do to change it much. And I stopped trying to sound like other guys and just tried to sound like the best me I could sound like. I found things in my singing voice that I liked and things I didn't, and I emphasized the good and avoided the bad. I found a singing style that fits my voice. I also realized that there are songs I will never be able to sing well, and there are songs I can sing wonderfully. Part of finding a singing voice is finding the right songs.

    The same applies to writing. When I started writing seriously, I wanted to be regarded as a brilliant stylist, someone constantly dazzling like James Joyce or Vladimir Nabokov. And what I wrote was hopelessly pretentious and achieved the exact opposite of the effect I wanted. I wanted great beauty and achieved laughable ugliness.

    But gradually I realized that trying to write like others isn't the way. I had to develop technique, of course, but I had to learn what I was good at and what I wasn't good at, and emphasize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. I no longer try to write the way Pavarotti sang. I try to write the best I can, and I'm finding that I can write beautiful prose when I put my mind to it, and it sounds like ME, not like any of my favorites.

    I think you just have to learn to like being you, not somebody else.
     
  8. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^ I completely agree with minstrel. :)
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I left university in 1997, between then and Feb 2010 I barely wrote a sentence except for letters I needed to write etc.

    When I first started to write there was a lot of things I needed to relearn, my punctuation which had only ever been OK now sucked completely. I couldn't remember how to form a sentence. It still isn't good and will never be the strongest part of my work but it no longer completely sucks.

    My writing just over a year ago was terrible - it is now much better, I am slowly learning what I am good at, what I struggle with and need to work at, where I need help. I love experimenting - beginning to think whilst I enjoy writing most forms scripts maybe where my talent really lies - dialogue, settings, banter seem to be my favourite things to write. My writing comes across better in present tense it loses something in past tense. I am going to have a go at writing plays and TV scripts next year once I have my novels done. I have some ideas for them and think a couple of my novels will work very well as both.

    The main way to improve and move forward is accept you are going to be rubbish to start with, and take baby steps. I find it useful to look back and compare writing from a few months before.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm 72 now and don't write much [if at all] differently than i did in my 40s or even in my teens... but i've always been considered a 'smart-a$$'y kid/broad who spoke/wrote my mind without any sugar-coating or regard for society's need to dissemble and euphemistify [did i just make that up?] things...
     

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