Showing posts with label Finding Your Voice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finding Your Voice. Show all posts

Sunday, May 5

Chuck Wendig On Finding Your Voice

Chuck Wendig On Finding Your Voice

I love it when Chuck Wendig talks about writing.

Recently Chuck gave an interview to 52 Reviews in which he mused about how to find your voice and what talent is.

How To Find Your Voice

Chuck Wendig says:
Every author decides to go on a grand adventure one day, and that grand adventure is to find her voice. She leaves the comfort of her own wordsmithy and she traipses through many fictional worlds written by many writers and along the way she pokes through their writings to see if her voice is in there somewhere. She takes what she reads and she mimics their voices, taking little pieces of other authors with her in her mind and on the page.

Is her voice cynical? Optimistic? Short and curt, or long and breezy? She doesn’t know and so she reads and she writes and she lives life in an effort to find out.

This adventure takes as long as it takes, but one day the author tires of it and she comes home, empty-handed, still uncertain what her voice looks like or sounds like.

And there, at home, she discovers her voice is waiting. In fact, it’s been there all along.

Your voice is how you write when you’re not trying to find your voice. Your voice is the way you write, the way you talk. Your voice is who you are, what you believe, what themes you knowingly and unknowingly embrace.

Your voice is you.

Search for it and you won’t find it. Stop looking and it’ll find you.

I think that's true for many areas of human endeavour, you won't find what you're looking for 'out there,' (wherever 'out there' is) only when you look within. (By the way, Chuck also talked about this on his blog.)

What Talent Is

Another quotable quote:
52 Reviews: Speaking of 'simply writing' do you prescribe to the notion that success as a writer is more a measure of effort and dedication than actual talent? Creativity, in and of itself, seems to be pretty easy to come by while the tenacity to commit to the act of actually creating seems to be much more scarce.

Wendig: Talent is a function of excess desire. You really, really want something bad enough, you tend to manifest a "talent" for it. While I'm sure there's some argument to be made for the expression of genetics, I think mostly it's just -- if you really like architecture and have the desire to create architecture, you're probably going to manifest the "talent" as an architect.

Dedication and effort then turn that desire and talent into craft and creation. At least, in a perfect world

Chuck's Books

Since he's so nice in giving us these tangy nuggets of wisdom, I want to mention that Chuck Wendig has 4 books coming out in the next couple of months. Here's Chuck's description:
First up: Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits. The gods fell to Earth. One man wants revenge on them for taking his family away from him. It involves various divine wangs and vaginas. No, really.

Next: The Blue Blazes. Which we have in part already talked about but hey, I'll entice with: mystical drugs! goblins! roller derby girl gangs! the criminal underworld! the mythic underworld! subterranean zombie town! charcuterie! family betrayal!

Then: Under the Empyrean Sky, which is my young adult novel in a sunny dustbowl cornpunk future where a scrappy scavenger named Cael finds a secret forbidden garden in a world where their floating Empyrean overlords only allow them to grow a bloodthirsty variant of corn. It's got young love and adventure and piss-blizzards and motorvators and an agricultural pro-farmer pro-food message nestled in all the trappings. John Hornor Jacobs called it Of Mice and Men meets Star Wars, which I quite like.

Finally! Beyond Dinocalypse, book two of the Spirit of the Century trilogy. Pulp heroes. Two-fisted jet-pack action. An apocalypse of psychic hive-mind dinosaurs. PROFESSORIAL APES IN KILTS.
Anyone who wants to read the first chapter of Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits, it's up at io9. Also, information about where Chuck's books are on sale, and other good stuff, is available over at Terribleminds.

Other articles you might like:

- Creating The Perfect Sleuth
- How Many Books Would You Have To Write To Quit Your Job?
- Advice For New Writers

Photo credit: "Untitled" by Tucker Sherman under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, February 23

The Importance Of Finding Your Own Voice

The Importance Of Finding Your Own Voice
Kris Rusch has written another awesome, inspirational, post: Out! All of You!

It was just what I needed. Over the past few days I've been getting back into the habit of writing after taking a break for my shoulder to heal and it's been tough.

Ignoring Your Inner Critic

Whenever I sat down to write all sorts of jabbering voices rose up like mushrooms after a rain, each telling me I was writing crap, that I would always write crap, that my crap was so crappy no one would read it.

Of course we have to care what other folks think about our work. After all, we need to pay the rent and eat occasionally. But it's easy to forget that the person we are writing for, first and foremost, is ourselves.

This isn't self-indulgence, it isn't ego. As writers, as creative beings, we need to stretch our creative muscles, we need to grow and continually develop our unique voice.

How do we do this? We write what our souls call us to write, regardless of what anyone else will think about it, regardless of whether anyone else believes what we're doing is valuable, or good, or even remotely sane!

Finding Your Own Creative Voice

In Out! All of you! Kris Rusch writes about finding your creative voice. She says that to have a long-term career, you need to learn to roll with the punches AND "you need to believe in yourself with a fierce passion. You need to know that your vision is the correct vision for you, and then you need to defend it."

Sally Field Fought For Her Creative Voice

Kris Rusch took the title of her piece--Out! All of you!--from a story Sally Field told in this short (4 min) video clip (starts around 2:45) during her interview on Nightline. It's an excellent video and Sally Field is wonderfully charismatic, it's well worth watching.

The point is that Sally Field believed enough in herself, in her artistic voice, to ignore the advice of her agents, her business manager and her husband and go her own way. And it paid off. She was right about herself. She succeeded.

Kris writes:
What disturbs me every teaching season is the way that writers wait for someone to tell them what box they fit in or what box they should go to. Every year, writers tell at least one of us that we need to give them better instructions. If we give better instructions, the writers insist, then they can write what we want them to write, so that we’ll be happy with them.

These writers entirely miss the point. The point isn’t for us to be happy, but for those writers to find their own voice. Sometimes they’ll fail an assignment and have to do it all over again from scratch. Oh, well. All that means is that they have to invest more time into their craft.

But for a certain type of writer, it means that they have screwed up completely, that they’ll never succeed, that they didn’t receive the help they needed to mold themselves into something someone else wanted.

We can’t help those writers. We try not to teach them, because we teach writers to stand on their own, defend their own vision, and become who they want to be, not who they’re told to be. It’s a tougher road to walk, because it means that there’s no one to blame when things go wrong.

Write For Yourself As Well As Others

Yesterday I wrote a 1,600 word short story in about 4 hours. For me that's good. I'll have to do another pass or two but I'm proud of it.

But I'll never, ever, publish it.

Why? Because it has to do with my father's death. It provided we with a way to say goodbye to him and to explore various issues that lingered, like ghosts, after his passing. (I did this as an unofficial response to Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge: Write What You Know.)

I wrote for myself, and I learnt something about myself and my writing. It gave me new energy, it invigorated me.

Rather than ask a question today I want to issue my own challenge:

Writing Challenge: Find Your Own Voice

1. Write something for yourself. 

Perhaps, down the road, you'll publish what you've written, but don't write with that in mind. Write something for you. If it will help, here is something Chuck Wendig wrote for his Write What You Know flash fiction challenge:
I want you to grab an event from your life. Then I want you to write about it through a fictional, genre interpretation — changing the event from your life to suit the story you’re telling. So, maybe you write about your first hunting trip between father-and-son, but you reinterpret that as a king taking his youngest out to hunt dragons. Or, you take events from your Prom (“I caught my boyfriend cheating on me in the science lab”) and spin it so that the event happens at the same time a slasher killer is making literal mincemeat of the Prom King and Queen. (Write What You Know)

2. Keep it short, 1,000 words or less

The second part of this challenge is to make it a short piece of 1,000 words or less. (Don't worry if you can't keep it to 1,000 words. I shot for 1,000 words and ended up with 1,600, but that was the shortest story I've written for years and was thrilled.)

Try to finish your piece on or before March 2. If you want to share it, post it on your website or blog and leave the link in a comment, below. If it's too personal to share, I'd still love to hear about your writing experience. :-)

Other articles you might like:

- Write A Novel In A Year, Chuck Wendig's Plan: The Big 350
- Plot, Story and Tension
- Patricia Cornwell Vindicated In Court, Wins 50.9 Million Dollars

Photo credit: "To Beseech Thee" by The Wandering Angel under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.