Short Saturday: The Paradox of Voice

I’ve written some about finding your voice (there are links below). Many people have. And you’ll hear lots of different opinions … which makes it difficult for young or inexperienced writers to figure out. What is voice in writing? And how do you identify yours?

It’s a mystery until you one day find yourself writing in your own voice, that’s what it is. :)

But it helps to read what others say about it. Writer/poet/artist Austin Kleon took the time to transcribe former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins’s thoughts on voice over at his blog, and I wanted to be sure you saw it. “It’s not that mysterious,” Collins says. But this is my favorite line and it comes at the end:

That’s one of the paradoxes of the writing life: that the way to originality is through imitation.

So read it, and it will all make sense. Or not. :) All I can tell you for sure is when you do stumble upon your own voice—whether it’s your personal voice in your blog, a character’s voice in your novel, or your poet’s voice (and don’t tell me you can’t identify a Mary Oliver piece at fifty paces, because her poet’s voice is like no other!)—you’ll know it without needing a definition.

Some things I’ve written about voice:
Have You Found Your Voice Yet?
More on Narrative Voice
You Get Three Wishes
That Voice Thing

Yes, I’ve been AWOL. It’s been a rough couple weeks, but I lived. Let’s move on.


Tweet: What is voice in writing? And how do you identify yours?
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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  1. By Short Saturday: Developing Your Writer’s Voice on 6 August, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    […] voice: “5 Ways to Develop Your Writer’s Voice.” (I’ve written some on this myself: here and here, just for […]