I don’t know about you, but I have many of those reminders; pieces of paper my Mother kept from when I was in grade school, things I wrote, pictures I drew and even then, I was writing “stories.”
In the second grade, I nearly drove my parents crazy by trying to read more books than any one else in my class — which I did, 300 — some were ones I couldn’t understand. I’d try to sound out the words and become so frustrated, but I did it. What did I win for my efforts? Pencils with my name etched in gold on them and a gold star next to my name that the teacher had hanging up on the wall — a list of the class and there was my name with a big gold star next to it.
As I make a point now to write something, anything every day, I find that no matter how much I try, no matter how much I think my writing is improving, I’ll still compare myself to others. I commiserate, confer and receive critiques from a great group of writers. When I read their stories I think:
- I wish my writing could be more lyrical, flowing and poetic like hers.
- I wish my stories could evoke more emotion like hers — a quiet, elegant sureness.
- I wish I could create a character that I should despise but he’s written it in such a way, I really like the character and want to know more.
- I wish I could go to those dark places and write like her where certain passages make me gasp a little.
- I wish I could write like her — creating characters with dialogue not only ringing true, but being in another place where I could feel the character’s painful memories of something the character does not want to remember.
Then, I remember what an instructor told me once. As much as you may try to write like someone else, it’s impossible. The reason being, each of us has our own unique voice. It’s why I keep reading one writer over and over –why I prefer this writer over that one. The voice resonates with me.
I read back over journals of past years and hear my “voice” in those passages. I think one develops a better voice over time, a better way of crafting words and developing characters, but the voice will always come through. Whether the writer is crafting a story about a hero, heroine or a despicable, horrible villain, it’s there.
So, the next time you read some great piece of writing that makes your heart sing or brings you to tears and you think — Why can’t I write like that?
Just relax and repeat this mantra again and again: I gotta be me…I gotta be me. (And I think about that gold star next to my name). :).
Happy writing and here’s to finding your own voice!