Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Your Creative Vocal Chords--How to Warm Them Up

William Wordsworth said, "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."  We're not all poets.  But all of us have these breathings of the heart, which some call voice.

Voice is your passion, your style, the things you must write, the way you must write them.  But voice can easily be squelched.  It can go through silent passages, coming out in a mere whisper.  The biggest problem in silent passages is that you don’t know they’re happening at first. They start innocently—a tiny bit of boredom with your characters, a chapter that feels rough with no inspiring fixes. These pile up and an overactive Inner Critic can make them seem worse. Slowly the silence inside the writer grows, until words trickle to a stop.

Educator Steve Peha from Teaching That Makes Sense http://www.ttms.org/ says voice is a combination of choices a writer makes. In other subjects, we all learn the same rules and theories.  Think:  math equations, history facts.  Creative writing is supposed to showcase the individual and how individual they can be and still communicate well.

“Everyone’s writing needs to be different from everyone else’s,” writes Peha. “The set of all the different choices a writer makes, and the collective effect they have on the reader, is what is often called ‘voice’ in a piece of writing.” Choices include your style of language, the words you use, the length of your sentences and paragraphs, tone.  Just like in conversation.

And conversation--with yourself--is the key.  Having a regular writing practice is the single most important way to gain and belief in yourself, and keep the writing voice warmed up.

This week, try writing every day for 5 minutes.  Just 5 minutes.  Observe the excuses and grumblings that might float (or thud) in during the first few days.  Then observe what happens once your voice gets warmed up. 

Check in here to let our book-writing community know how your 5 minutes/day went.