Hugh Howey on How to Find Your Voice as a Writer (and Why It’s Essential You Find It)
If you don’t know him, Hugh Howey is the writer of Wool, Shift and Dust a sci-fi trilogy that started as a short novel for 0,99 cents on Kindle and ended up making Howey millions, and a leader in disruptive distribution. (Howey negotiated with his traditional publisher to keep the digital rights.)
Also, Ridley Scott has optioned Wool in 2012.
There’s a lot to say about Howey that I find to be a fascinating artist that brilliantly embraced the new tools and technology and used them to leverage his career. And unsurprisingly, despite his success, Howey has a blog, where he shared knowledge and wisdom.
In one of his recent entries, So You Want to Be a Writer, he shared ten elements that, in his experience, separate successful writers from unsuccessful one.
The whole piece is a must-read, especially if you plan on writing anything. But what particularly got my attention and I wanted to share here is his last point, about the voice.
Finding your voice is an essential component for any artist, filmmakers and screenwriters included. And I love how Howey puts it for writers. It’s so simple and yet I feel often overlooked. Here goes:
How to Find Your Voice (And Why It’s Essential You Do So)
an advice from Hugh Howey
What the hell is your voice?
It’s how you write when you aren’t aware that you’re writing. Everything else you do is mimicry. Self-awareness is the enemy of voice.
When you fire off an email to your mom or best friend, you are writing in your voice. When you blog, you will begin to find your voice. Your voice will change the more you read and the more you write. That’s normal. It’s still your voice.
Why is voice important?
Not because it will land you an agent. Or because your works will win literary awards. No, screw that. Your voice is important because you can’t enter a flow state without it.
When you find your voice, your fingers won’t be able to keep up with your writing. You won’t stumble. You won’t flail. You won’t sit there wondering what the next best word is. You’ll have an idea or a concept, a visual image, a conversation that you want to convey, and you’ll know immediately how to convey it.
Your voice will get easier to find the broader your vocabulary becomes. You’ll have more pieces to slot into the jigsaw puzzle of your prose. Your voice will improve as you study your own writing to see what works and what doesn’t. My voice is sing-song. I fell in love with Shakespeare’s sonnets and read so much iambic pentameter that I can’t help but have my syllabic stresses rise and fall to a beat. I like the way it feels. It feels like me. I also discovered that I love run-on sentences, with lots of comma clauses, but only if I intersperse those sentences with a bunch of choppy, short, incomplete clauses. My mother pointed this out to me. She was right. Nailed it. And I learned to embrace this.
Getting comfortable with your voice means becoming less self-conscious about your writing. When this happens, you can tell the story in your mind without getting in your own way. Stop reading what you’re writing as you write it. See the world in your head. Visualize it. Smell it. Hear it. Sprinkle in details from the periphery of your character’s senses. Make the world real. Then just tell it as naturally as you can. I promise this will go better than trying to impress yourself or anyone else. I promise.
I hope this will hit home for you as it did to me. And if you want more, run read the full article and discover Howey’s 9 other tips: So You Want to Be a Writer
thanks to Austin Kleon
check the archives for a taste of it.