Horns which are put on do not stick properly – South African proverb
One of the most frustrating periods of my writing journey was not realizing that I had to have my own voice. I saw the works of many great authors, how their work was excelling and how readers resonated with their work. I initially thought that I had to use certain words and styles in order to grow a massive audience or connect with successful writers. But when I learned the truth, I dug within and learned the success I could have by coming from a place of my own knowledge and experience. Not only did my writing improve, but I quickly gained the respect of successful creatives, which meant so much to me and only encouraged me to keep going.
True creativity stems from our own unique, lived experience. No one can mimic or manipulate it. Trying to incorporate someone else’s unique experience into your own only leads to frustration and confusion.
Reach for knowledge — from any source — with your two feet planted firmly on the ground. Hold it in your hands and examine it objectively. If and when you’re ready, internalize and embody it. In your own way. On your own terms.Jennifer Hamady, Finding Your Voice
Go Beyond the “Why”
When I first decided to make writing a bigger part of my life, I had to decide what perspective or experience I was going to use. I could only use what I knew at the time – trying to start over after a failed marriage and numerous events of disappointment. From there, the content grew and the voice grew as well. It certainly didn’t happen over night, but writing from a place of knowledge help me build my starting point and create a vision from there.
Practice Equals Building
The fact of the matter is, the more you write the better (and comfortable ) you become at the craft. The earlier mistakes I made was trying to be ideal with my writing. The environment had to be perfect (access to a typewriter and a cabin with a fireplace in the woods is not very easy to find), the tone had to be certain way, and it had to be what I thought was appealing, even though I wasn’t sharing it with anyone at the time. All wrong. I learned that I just simply had to write. It didn’t have to make sense and it didn’t have to impress anyone.
Another vital tool for me to gain confidence in my writing voice was meeting people who had already reached where I was trying to go, or were in the same phase of journey as me. Having conversations of similar struggles or discovering ways to grow are what helped me immensely. I realized that I wasn’t alone in trying to build a voice that could be relatable, but that it takes time to get to that point. Good manuscripts take years to accomplish, stemming from awful, confusing first drafts and endless editing sessions.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by others, or learning from another person’s experience. The trick is, making it your own. I believe that’s where the actual magic happens. No matter how big or small your intended audience may be, the world needs to hear your story. Make everything you’ve learned from others your own, that’s where knowledge turns into wisdom. Grow your own horns.