In today’s world of loud voices and oversaturated book markets, how does a new author fit in? I’ve seen many authors suggest emulating the greats. After all, if they made it, you could too if you followed their example. This way of thinking is flawed and here is why and how you can find your authentic voice.
- Read- This may seem counter intuitive. If I’m going to find my own voice, why am I reading other books? Won’t that confuse and influence my style? Shouldn’t I avoid books so I don’t unknowingly imitate my favorite authors? All good questions. And my answer is confusing. Yes, reading work by your favorite authors might confuse your own style. Yes, it might influence your writing. But it also will spark ideas, remind you of why you want to write and point you in a good direction. So, read as much as you can, but then heed number two.
- Write- Put away all distractions and free write. Don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure or even spelling. Get your ideas down and see where it takes you. Allow your thoughts to spill on the page. Your voice will reveal itself if you allow it to form.
- Don’t Imitate- Stuck on a sentence or plot point? Don’t imitate another author. Discover a new way to convey your meaning. While it’s nice to compared to Tolkien or Austen, it’s more gratifying to be compare to…you. Make sure your story has a part of you inside it. Don’t worry about the rules right now. What style suits your writing? What will make a reader say that’s what they love about your writing? What makes you stand out? Is it the way you describe your characters or the setting? Is it your snappy dialogue? Or is it the way you form relationships amongst your characters?
- Don’t compare- You do you. Don’t compare your writing to someone else. They aren’t telling your story. Compare today’s writing to yesterday’s writing, but don’t compare to another author. You are on different journeys and have different audiences. Don’t change your voice because it doesn’t match another.
- Write for your own satisfaction- Yes, if you want a career you have to write to market, to an extent. But first you have to write for yourself. If you don’t write for yourself, the joy escapes and it’s evident in the prose. If you want your readers to love your writing, you have to love it first. Your joy and emotion shows through the page.
So find your voice. Embrace it. Cherish it. Celebrate it. Only you can tell your story.