Voice. In writing it means the author’s style that makes his or her writing unique, which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character.
Voice in official sense is something that constantly changes over time for a writer. In the beginning they are trying to find that voice, mimicking the voice of those they admire, throwing in dashes of their own self when they dare. As they mature more of their own spice gets added into the pot, until their voice is a dish all it’s own.
In my day job I’m told I have voice nailed down. “You’re really brought a refreshing and friendly voice to our organization Andrea – great job!” my boss’ words echo in my ears. It brings a smile to my face to hear that, feeling as though as a writer I’m having some success. After all, they wouldn’t trust me to completely re-write the organization’s website content if they didn’t have some modicum of faith in my abilities.
With that bit of ego rub under my belt, it frustrates me that I seem to stop short with my own projects. I don’t believe it to be my voice in the above sense that suffers because, while I may not be one of those Type-A always confident people, I’m at least reassured of my own sense of identity.
Yet why do the words dry up?
When I’m writing for myself, the words always come easiest at the beginning. The words flow, ideas come, I fill paragraphs and pages with stories and thoughts. Things take a turn for the worse. Ideas continue to swirl in my mind, but they refuse to come out. I begin to force myself to go on writing. Annoyance turns to ambivalence. The project dies.
I’m scared to count the number of pieces I’ve started and not finished.
I have a difficult time finding the cause. My voice is there, fighting to break onto the page and declare itself. It knows what it wants to say, but struggles to make it’s way to end the piece with a resounding final period.
It’s not as though I cannot finish a piece, otherwise I would never have graduated university and I wouldn’t be working. Yet even this blog post I’ve lost steam on. I’ve changed ideas, scratched out the entire section on voice, stopped, restarted, got lost on twitter, and come back to it. At one point I was sure it would rot in my drafts folder.
Where did that capable work-Andrea go? The one who can bang out a press release in an hour. Who can write website copy about topics that are beyond my understanding. Who can tell a story on social media and drive traffic to our site. It’s gone and hidden and refused to come, refuses to express itself.
Somewhere along the way, something is scaring my voice away.
I like to think that I don’t care if anyone reads my writing, that I do it for my own pleasure. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. In the career path that I’ve taken, everyone’s an editor (even when they’re not), so I’ve learned to have thick skin when I need it.
I do my own personal writing because it gives me an outlet. It lets my imagination go to places that I’ve dreamt about since I was a kid. It lets me contribute my own thoughts on one of my favourite subjects. It allows me to create. I write for myself. If some pour soul stumbles on my works and enjoys it – that’s just a bonus.
But ah – now isn’t that the rub? When I write for work I always have a purpose, an audience that I”m aiming for. When I’m writing for my own whims, that’s the only purpose I have – I’m writing to please myself.
Somehow I’m scaring myself away from completing anything. Aren’t we always our own toughest critics?
I need to chase that feeling of writing without purpose away. Shoo it under the rug. Because even if I’m only writing for myself, I’m still writing with a reader in mind.
I need to hear my own voice.