Tuesday, February 23, 2010

6 Tips For Writing Success--Tip #1

© Rachelle J. Christensen

This blog is the first in a series to share tips that I think will help you to be a better writer. To read the introductory post, click here.
I"m not an expert, but I'm willing to share some of the things that have helped me on my road to becoming a published author. With all the tips that keep coming to mind, I'll probably do another series on this, but here are 6 tips that topped my list.

1. Find your voice
2. Make writing a priority/write every day
3. Attend Writers Conferences
4. Enter Writing Contests
5. Join a Critique group
6. Set Specific Goals

Today we're going to focus on--Find your voice

Last January, I went to a one-day writing seminar in Provo. I took my 4 month old baby boy with me because it was a small class and I had a moment of *insanity/mommy wants to break her parole from being housebound with a baby and pursue her writing career*
My baby was supposed to be good. Instead my husband ended up having to come and get him halfway through. This was after he'd pooped through his diaper and down my leg and I'd tried to wash out my pants and use the blow dryer in the bathroom. I told you it was insanity!

Anyway, what does all this have to do with voice? I'm a gettin' there!

We did several writing exercises and one of them was on voice. I don't remember a lot of fine details about that class, but I do remember the impression made that it was important to find your own unique writing voice.

You can't imitate someone's writing style or voice because it will come off sounding phony. Think of your favorite books of all time. What was it about those books that sang to you?
I'm guessing it was the incredibly potent voice of a character--the way the character seemed to be sitting right beside you as you read about their travails. The strength of the voice in a novel can make or break it. In literary novels, voice is usually the number one factor that creates the story.

So how do you find your own voice?
By writing.
Write in first person, third person, present-tense, past-tense. Find your style and find how you can best identify with your character.

When do you find the most joy in your writing?
Have you analyzed your writing? Do all of your characters sound the same? Do any of your characters haunt you while you're telling their story?
Your voice should be so real that your story leaps from the page and connects with readers.
*Try some free-writing exercises. Write about a girl chasing butterflies. Write a page about a boy climbing onto the roof of a school.
Examine your writing. What do you see? What do you hear? Does your writing speak to you, and if not, why?

After that crazy day, when I returned home from the class and took care of my family and rocked my baby and got ready for bed, something happened.
I was tired. I got in bed and closed my eyes and began to relax and a sentence came into my mind.

Sometimes the wind sings through the trees like it has a soul of its own.

My eyes opened. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my DANA and wrote down the first line. I savored that first line. Where had it come from? Then I wrote the first page.
And I felt it!
I felt like I had found my voice. The words were singing to me and I continued to work on that novel for the rest of the year. The first few chapters won a first place and second place award and I continued to write.

I loved writing my newest novel, a literary inspirational romance called, "Wind Song." I loved it because I found my voice and my voice flowed onto the pages until the words sang a story that touched my heart.
I hope that you can find your voice. Practice. Listen. Write. Cultivate your voice. Dig for it. And let it sing.


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