In Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, there is a chapter called “Finding Your Voice”. Ann observes that after years of teaching writing, there is one thing that is real and true – your own voice. “The writer’s job is to see what’s behind [the closed doors of your life], to see the bleak unspeakable stuff, and to turn the unspeakable into words … You can’t do this without discovering your own true voice. … The truth of your experience can only come through in your own voice.” (pp. 198-199)
Many writers join my classes because they are ready to be seen and heard. They have decided they no longer want to stay hidden, and they recognize that writing in a group is their next best step to self-expression. The writing process I use in my groups – timed writing from prompts, followed by reading aloud – allows everyone to have their words received. Reading aloud supports each person to begin hearing their own voice.
Your writing style and your voice are made up of who you are and everything you have experienced in your lifetime. You can borrow another author’s writing style for a while, as you become more comfortable with putting pen to paper. However, as you continue playing and working with the timed writing process, there will come a time when you recognize your particular way of expressing yourself.
Perhaps you are compelled to make up a word when there isn’t an existing one that works for your draft. You might be drawn to describe the early morning light in a forest, when being on the trail feels like entering a cathedral – like the one you entered when you spent time in Europe. Perhaps an unexpected sense of loss emerges when you notice a rotting log, decaying beside the trail. Do your best to stay present to what is uncomfortable and be curious. Stay present to what is emerging within you. Observe sensory details and use expressions that are completely unique to your gaze.
Taking time to record your lived experience in writing is an action that gives life meaning. In her book, Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg states: “We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here, we are human beings; this is how we lived.”
In the company of others who have also said yes to this writing journey, we support each other to connect to the truth of our experience with undivided attention. We hold each other during challenges and celebrate the joys. Writing is a way to come home to yourself. Your voice matters. You matter.
A great way to meet members of my growing Facebook community is by joining Marie’s Writing Oasis! We post writing prompts, inspiring images, and support each other as we share our words. I also host several Creative Focus Sessions on Zoom each month where we set aside sacred time to focus on our writing together. I post reminders about times and dates in Marie’s Writing Oasis. Click the link to join us. If you are not on Facebook and want to receive the upcoming dates for these sessions please email email@example.com to add your name to my mailing list.
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