For Tuesday, November 10, 2015:
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
Yesterday I heard the story of a friend’s colleague who wants to write a book, but who spends all her free time doing research instead. Every day she visits at least one library or bookstore. Every weekend she travels farther afield to peruse the shelves of libraries and bookstores, coming away with stacks of books each time. She’s taken whole weeks to do the same. Apparently this has been going on for years, but as the books pile up she hasn’t written a word.
Now I certainly don’t want to poo-poo research, or going to libraries and bookstores. Some of my best times are spent pursuing those avocations! But there comes a time when, if one truly wants to write a book, one must start putting words together.
I’ve suggested time and again, here and elsewhere, that it doesn’t matter what you write, but that you write. I think one of the reasons ‘wannabe writers’ don’t is because of fear: a fear of failure, a fear they’re not good enough, the fear of starting something they won’t finish.
I wonder, too, if some are afraid of their own voice. I wonder if the woman of research above has so many other voices in her head now, her own may be lost or disappearing. Or she compares her voice with others and, at some level — conscious or, more likely, unconscious — doesn’t like what she hears inside.
If that’s the case (and I suspect we’ve all been there at one or more points in our writing lives), then we have to reach the point where it just doesn’t matter what others think. We have to believe in ourselves, believe in the value of our own words, in order to go forward.
That’s a lot easier said than done, of course! But that’s one reason for these daily prompts: I want to encourage and support others’ words and writing because I believe in every single one of us, each of you. Consider your writing a safe place, where you don’t need to worry how your voice sounds, or what others will hear. Once you can jump over that hurdle, you’ll be well on your way.