The Voices in My Head

We're writing about the inner voice of a writer, but I think a lot of us have more than one voice in our head.  I know I do.  Technically, I guess that makes me crazy, but I talk myself through the process of writing a story all the time, or more accurately, I listen.  So in true Muse fashion, here's a list of the voices in my head this week:

The voice of doubt:  Everyone has this monster on their shoulder at some point in the writing process, but I find it's most vocal when I'm working on a first draft.  It doesn't help that my first drafts tend to be messy and aimless and devoid of character development, and well-first drafts.  The voice of doubt criticizes my writing, my story, its marketability, and questions why I even try to write in the first place.  Ugh.  I hate this voice.  I'm getting better at ignoring it, but sometimes it sneaks up on me and just. won't. stop.

The voice of optimism:  Fortunately, this voice is louder than the voice of doubt and usually beats down the doubts long enough for me to get through a draft and onto the next one.  The voice of optimism is strongest when I've had a prolific writing day, a huge plot breakthrough or major character revelation.  It reminds me that I love to write, that I love my story, flawed as it is, and that it doesn't matter if the story never goes beyond my hard drive, because the experience of writing it is it's own reward.  Which it totally is.

This picture talks to me too...
The voice of a character that wants to be heard:  There's nothing like the moment when a character shows up fully formed and starts to tell her story, in her voice, holding nothing back.  I spend a lot of time, through trial and effort, trying to get my arms around most of the characters in my stories, but every once in a while a character walks on to the page in three dimensions.  It's so much easier to write a character when you know exactly what he wants, how he react to things and how he got that way.  Some characters hold their secrets tight and fight me through multiple drafts, but when they finally talk (and eventually they do) it is almost always a special moment.

The voice of secret dreams and dogma:  This voice whispers in the shadows of my subconscious, buried so deep that I'm barely aware it's there. This is the part of me that wants to explore what it means to live and die, to love and hate, to find meaning in human existence, the part I didn't even know existed until I started writing stories and discovering themes and ideas on the page that I'd never spent much time thinking about before.  The more I write, the more I discover what's important to me in my own life, providing richness and depth to my own personal life story.

The voice of professionals: This is the voice of what I imagine my agent or editor will think about whatever I'm writing now.  It's different then the voice of self doubt, because it's not necessarily negative.  It's a voice that attempts to guide the story in a specific direction based on feedback I've gotten on other works.  It helps me improve my writing by using tools and tips that worked for me in the past and encourages me by reminding me that there are no wasted words.

The voice of my gut:  This is the most important voice to listen to when I'm working on a manuscript.  No matter what anyone else thinks, at the end of the day, I have to love the story I'm working on.  So I can take all the advice and constructive criticism in, but at the end of the day, what comes back out has to be mine.  The voice of my gut reminds me to tell a story that has meaning for me, to allow my characters to live and breathe and show me the way.

All these voices talk to me at various times in the writing process.  Sometimes I need to shut them out, but other times, I want to listen.  The great thing about a manuscript is that it's made up of pieces of all those voices, until at last it finds a voice of its own.

3 comments

This is going on the bulletin board: The voice of my gut: This is the most important voice to listen to when I'm working on a manuscript. No matter what anyone else thinks, at the end of the day, I have to love the story I'm working on. So I can take all the advice and constructive criticism in, but at the end of the day, what comes back out has to be mine. The voice of my gut reminds me to tell a story that has meaning for me, to allow my characters to live and breathe and show me the way.

I love that. Thanks, Talia.

So many voices! No wonder you compile rockin' playlists for each book! :)

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