So what does all this have to do with today’s post? As Martin discussed voice over the past few days, it made me revisit that old question: Why is it so hard to capture and develop voice?
First of all, mechanics have little to do with voice. A writer can polish his mechanics to a diamond finish and still lack voice. As such, it isn’t something that can be taught, at least, not in the way other elements of writing are taught.
More, though, in my opinion, a lack of developed voice comes from two factors.
1) Lack of experience. Voice is developed. It comes from experimentation and experience gained from pages and pages and books and books written. It’s something a writer uncovers and becomes attuned to over time. Like a healthy physique, it must be slowly developed and nurtured.
2) Fear. This, in my opinion, is the biggest hindrance to voice. Fear is tied to a lack of confidence, and confidence can take a writer over the edge to something truly impressive. Fear stifles a writer. It makes him choose safe paths in plotting, description, and character choices, all of which tend to rob of story of vibrancy and originality. For a story to reach its heights, a writer must let go of fear and the worry over success, others’ opinions, his own opinions of himself and his writing, and “the rules.” Easier said than done, I know, but it isn’t impossible. Plus, it gets easier with practice.
A quote I loved that best sums up how one should write and the method I believe best provides fertile soil for developing voice is RobinLaFevers’s, “Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write asif no one is reading.”