Have you ever heard the phrase “I need to hear myself think!”?
When you’re so inside your head, what does thinking sound like? Is it the same voice that you speak with? Does it sound like anything at all? Having a strong voice is important and something that I cannot emphasize enough. I find that I think, like I talk, like I write.
Socially, people are drawn to others with a “strong voice”. By strong here – I DO NOT necessarily mean loud or yelling, but instead confident, charismatic, and dynamic. Have you ever wondered what makes people special? It isn’t the clothes they wear or the way they look. Some people are just magnetic and I find them especially fascinating. They speak and move with confidence. So where, oh where, does this confidence come from? I believe that it comes from trusting your own “voice”.
Words like gut, intuition, and conscience are thrown around a lot; so much that it’s becoming hard to decipher the real meaning behind them. For writers like myself, I think these things come in the form of an actual voice. The key here is to be able to listen to yourself and make decisive decisions. The more closely you listen, the stronger and clearer the voice becomes. When writing, it becomes easier and easier to regurgitate your thought process: what you are thinking, what your ideas are, and even what you want to do.
So what makes a good writer then? I read for two different reasons: to be entertained and to learn. Now if both of these things can happen at once – well, that’s magic. However, I’m happy if I am getting one or the other. If I’m bored, if the prose is difficult, or if I’ve seen it before – I move. Plain and simple.
Though not an entirely new concept I’m intrigued by the idea of “attention fragmentation” and “intertextuality”. I’ve read two different articles recently that address these ideas but each in a different way. The first is a piece by Ewan Morrison called Factual fiction: writing in an information age. Basically he discusses the blending of fact and fiction in writing and suggests that we are creating a new genre to use “factions” creating viral super-stories. Morrison bases his theory on the idea that these factions are a direct result of the way that we find and process information. Googling while texting, while emailing, while checking out a news feed… you see where I’m going with this? The second article is called Recovering from information overload and written by Derek Dean and Caroline Webb. Here I found two striking suggestions: that we use multitasking as a coping mechanism and that, again, because of the ease of access in the digital age we overindulge in information.
How many times have you either bragged OR felt bad that you were/weren’t a good multitasker? Mastering the ability to proverbially juggle everything on your plate all at once is something that we seem to strive for. What a revolutionary idea that multitasking can actually be bad. Yes – you were walking, checking your email, taking out the garbage, grabbing the snail mail, drinking a coffee, and listening to a friend tell you all about “work problems” all at the same time. Check, check, and check. Dean and Webb point out the biggies on your list that take time and concentration to be done right are probably… still on your list (even though you just checked off six of your menial tasks).
So what’s my point? I enjoyed these articles because they were relevant, well written, and thought-provoking. So how does this relate to “the voice” and writing? You have GREAT ideas and you want to (dare I say… NEED to) share them. The most compelling and EASY TO READ articles are those with a clear voice conveying its message. Look at some of your favorite text and ask yourself – is it consistent and does the writer know what he/she is trying to say?
Now here is where my articles come in. Honing your internal monologue takes hard work, just like nowadays turning off your phone takes an enormous amount self-control because you have to stop and focus all your attention on one thing at a time. How can you communicate with yourself if you have 10 different voices screaming at you all at once? Think of fragmented thoughts like static on the radio and you are struggling over the unpleasant noise to hear your favorite song. When the distraction of the static falls away you are left with nothing but a beautiful tune. In this case its YOUR thoughts and YOUR voice coming though clearly.
At this point I can actually hear my own voice when I think and especially when I write. If it isn’t something that I would say out loud, I don’t write it that way. This (fingers crossed) makes what I’m writing easy to read. The words become fluid. Fluid, interesting and natural draws people in. Life is hard enough as it is – no one wants an unnecessary struggle.
So please take notes from yourself and share with the rest of us – they’re probably great. Odds are you’ve been ignoring yourself for quite a while. Who ever said hearing voices in your head was a bad thing?