KATIE WRITES: Bear with me–I’m going to go off-topic for a few minutes. When I was first planning this event I got it into my head that I was going to ask some “real” authors and bloggers to write for me. I sent out emails to a bunch of people whom I personally respected and most everyone else has probably never heard of, but who have published enough or are well enough known that it would be a big score for me to get a yes. I then proceeded to sit back and awe as these people I had never dared address before started saying “yes.” (Only two of my “special” guests said no for this event–and both declined due to scheduling issues and offered to do something later in the year.)
The crown jewel of this project, however, has to be securing the participation of Logan Rhoades. For those of you who do not know, he is the author of the “Daily Odd Compliments” that run around Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and every other aspect of the internet. He’s on my list of “most creative writers” and has the benefit of being a genuinely nice person. (As anyone who’s read the messages on the chat blog that accompanies DOC can attest.) I’m still amazed that, not only did he say yes, he actually stuck to that despite being busy and turned up this amazing, if short, little piece on finding your voice. Enjoy, and keep reading to the end for a special giveaway!
Finding Your Voice
“You can get someone’s attention by running your fingernails across a chalkboard, but that doesn’t mean you should do it.”
I think a teacher told me that once. Or I might have made it up. Regardless, the message behind those words is something you should think about. But that’s for later.
OK, so how do you find your voice? Well, it’s really quite simple: you write until you find it. I know, I cannot believe I am not a literary professor, either. But it’s true. The only way to find your voice is to get better at writing, and the only way to do that is to write more. You need to create volumes of work. What’s work? Well that’s up to you. Maybe it’s a post on your blog or something as simple as a tweet. It really doesn’t matter. The point is to get what you wrote out into the world. Give your words an audience and then experiment. Go crazy.
It’s important to remember that not a single other person on this planet has your thoughts. Which is remarkable to think about. Your viewpoint on the world around you is fantastically unique, so use that to your advantage. Write how you want to write. In the professional environment, that sort of mentality is frowned upon, but I don’t care. Break the rules. But before that, you have to know what the rules are. That’s a big distinction that you must follow. If you’re going to break The Rules of Writing, you need to know why you’re doing it. When you have a reason, you have a purpose, and when you have that, you are now one step closer to finding your voice.
You should also read. Other people are better and smarter than you, so find those people and read their words. Learn their style, flow and voice and then figure out what you like about it. Is there a pattern in the work you like? Try bringing that into your writing. Is there something you don’t like? Then avoid doing that. And if you don’t like what you’re writing, change it. And keep changing your writing until you somewhat like it. (SPOILER: You’re not going to love everything you write.)
And that’s it!
Look, this is YOUR voice, so it’s up to you to navigate your mind and push yourself to find it. You need to keep reading, writing, and experimenting until you have that special thing that you want to have. I don’t know what that is. Nobody but you knows what it is. But when that special thing becomes your adrenaline, you’ve found it.
And make sure to keep your fingernails off the chalkboard. Think about it. Then go write.
Logan Rhoades is a senior writer for BuzzFeed who oversees all of the sports content on the site. In 2011, he launched “Daily Odd Compliment,” which was nominated for “Tumblr of the Year” in 2013. You can follow him on twitter @LoganRhoades.
Remember those random giveaways that I said were going to happen throughout the month? This is the first one! We’re giving away an exclusive package of Daily Odd Compliment Postcards to one randomly drawn winner! To enter comment below with your answer to one of the follow discussion questions:
What authors do you like who have a particularly unique voice?
Do you have a favorite excercise for helping you find your voice?
What can you say that no one else can?
Only one entry per person, but please feel free to comment and interact with each other as much as you like! Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, July 9th and must respond by Saturday 12th or a new winner will be selected.