Friday, September 9, 2011

My Voice - Or Something Like It...

I've really enjoyed reading the other Girlfriends' posts on how they learned their craft of writing.

Isn't it funny (annoying) when someone tells you, "Oh, you write novels? I always thought that was easy. I could do it in a weekend?" On the outside, I'm reasonably courteous and say things like, "You should give it a shot," instead of, "Well, once you grow a pair and decide you can write a plot that lasts 300 pages - something people actually want to read, and then have the dedication to spend several months working on it - let me know."

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, writing. I think the hardest part of learning to write for me was finding my voice. I tried the usual rookie move - writing to sound like other published writers - because hey, that's what sells, right? Okay, so you probably know the result - I failed big time. Turns out I can't write a historical like Johanna Lindsey or a Harlequin Intrigue like BJ Daniels.

I could string sentence together and spell like a demon. But until I found my true voice, I had no idea what I was doing. It wasn't until my fourth manuscript that I started writing like, well, like me.

I'm not sure why this is such a difficult lesson to learn. And maybe I'm the only one who had trouble with it. When they say "write what you know," I think they might be wrong. It should be, "write like you are." At least, that's how I see it.

How about you? Did you find your voice easily?
Leslie Langtry


  1. Leslie
    This is so true. I still have challenges with my own voice--which seems so counterintuitive. I hear it fade in and out but usually with revision after revision I can find my way to this thing called voice. Great post!

  2. Thanks Maggie! I enjoyed your post too. And the idea of "voice" is hard to explain, isn't it?

  3. Still working on the whole voice thing. But I think it's natural to copy other voices in the beginning.

  4. This is so true Leslie!! Voice is the hardest thing of all. But I do agree with Karin--you can learn a lot by imitating writers who've been successful when you're starting out.

  5. Karin and Lucy - a very valid point! I hadn't thought of that!

  6. Leslie, great post! I've noticed that finding our voice is a bit of a balancing act between following the rules for good writing (i.e., not overusing adverbs, which I tend to do ;) vs. writing in a style most natural to us. I believe Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours to gain mastery when it comes to this...or writing about 1 million words. In any case, I think "voice" ends up being the perfect marriage between well-crafted writing and authentic expression of our worldview.

  7. Great twist on "write what you know" and much truer to fact!