How I (Accidentally) Found My Voice
I didn’t find my voice until I stopped caring what I wrote.
This seems counter intuitive. You should care what you write. I just mean I found my voice when I stopped worrying about what I was writing. Once I shed the self-doubts and the painful slow going of trying to make every single word perfect, I started to write better.
I decided I was just going to play. I was going to pay attention to the words bouncing around the page, to the sounds the characters heard, to the minute details that possessed their world. I would write stories/scenes/snippets that were just for me. These odds and ends I was writing ended up being far more interesting than anything I was actively trying to submit.
I found a few tricks to lure me into the chair:
1. Song Titles
A friend of mine told me she listens to the same song on repeat while she’s writing a story. I thought this sounded a little crazy, to be honest (how can you listen to music and write? Especially with lyrics? Too distracting). But I was desperate. I wasn’t writing. Or if I was writing, it wasn’t making me feel good about sitting down to write. It wasn’t making me eager to sit back down again. So I tried it. And it worked.
I put a spin on my friend’s trick. I pick a song from a random Spotify playlist, title the blank page with the song title, and then listen to the song. I listen to the song carefully once. I pay attention to the lyrics, the emotions, the meaning. Then, I just let the song fade into the background on repeat (I keep the volume relatively low). I found that this practice helps me infuse the story with emotions of the song. When I’m stuck, I tune back into the song. I find something new I missed the first time and let that carry me away.
2. Tarot Cards
I found a mini/portable deck of tarot cards and the book WTF IS TAROT… & HOW DO I DO IT? and I started to read Bakara Wintner’s hilarious interpretations of the cards. I pull cards for my characters, for myself, for my friends.
I let the cards tell my character’s past, present, future, let them tell me what my character needs to know, help me fill in gaps, provide direction, provide something, anything.
3. Folklore, Mythology, Paranormal Activity
Since I write mostly contemporary fiction, I find it fun to write in a completely different reality to play with setting, emotions, and character responses. I pick a place or event and sit down and write it from the POV of someone dealing with zombies, or mermaids, or aliens. It’s usually very ridiculous, but a lot of fun.
These little exercises have helped me find my passion writing again. It’s still a lot of agonizing on the page. It’s still heartbreaking. But now I have some sneaky tricks to help me sit down at my computer. Once I complete the exercises, I can either keep writing or I can call it a day.
As Nina LaCour says, “Some words on most days.” Even play writing counts as writing. Hell, try writing an actual play and see what happens. It’ll be fun!