Writer’s Life: The Voices in My Mind

As a writer, my head is filled with voices. Now, I’ve talked about the voice of my inner critic previously, so we’ll ignore that one today. Instead, I’d like to pay tribute to the many voices that echo within as I write, and explain how they help me along the way.

Mentor Voices 

“Make sure you don’t let a character become too much like you. Change something important to create a safe distance.”

“Think of your character. What makes her tick? Now, take it away. Or what gives pressure? Press a little harder. Keep testing the character to make a story—and the character—alive.”

“Keep an eye on line breaks.””Be careful with rhyme pairs.” “This is good, but you you have a unique voice. How would *you* say this?”

I can’t take credit for any of these voices–they’ve come from mentors. Some mentors work with me monthly, and others don’t even know they’ve mentored me because they’ve shared their wisdom in workshops, lectures, and the like. Still, these voices are always with me as I’m writing something new. I hope that some day, my voice will be a companion for another writer.

Character Voices

Once you begin to create a fictional world, it begins to come alive in your mind. This is good, of course, but there are things that occur that I never believed possible until it happened to me. The characters begin talking. “Let me tell you a secret. This is why I act this way.” “What are you doing?! I would never say that!” And then characters talk among themselves, giving me context that doesn’t even make it into the book I’m writing. Still, it helps. My characters keep my company and make sure I stay true to who they are.

Reader Voices

I’ve talked about readers before too. I’m always thinking about an audience for any given thing I’m writing or saying. How would this reader react to my paragraph? What would this reader be thinking? How can I reach this reader? So, these readers live in my mind, playing devil’s advocate to all my rhetoric, challenging me to be prepared for any decision I make in writing—whether it is a platitude or a punctuation mark.

It may sound overwhelming to consider so many voices at a time, and I do suppose it takes practice. But I’ve noticed that the more I consider these voices, the better others are served by the things I say. I’m grateful that my own voice is impacted by others’.