“You used to write like…I don’t know, like you were writing for an episode of ‘Friends’ or something. A lot of quips and sarcasm. I noticed you don’t do that anymore.”
“Well, I did that because I felt I had to defend everything I wrote in advance. I don’t feel that way anymore.”
The above exchange between my mom and I took place just a few weeks ago on one of our early morning walks around the neighborhood. Long has she said that I am “an old soul,” a personality that’s naturally on the quiet, reserved, and serious end of the spectrum. And she’s right. While I love to laugh, I also love to think. I like to step back and observe. I like to study. My favorite question has always been, and always will be, “Why?”
Ultimately, I want to understand the world and everything in it.
A lofty goal, and one I will never meet, because I am, of course, not God.
I know He gave me this brain, though. He gave me this drive to learn. More than that, He gave me the desire and the ability to teach. I can’t help it. If I discover something new, or at least something new to me, especially if it is about the Bible and theology, I have to go out and tell everyone I know. The teens in my church have gotten more free lessons in hermeneutics than they could ever possibly want.
Finding the Voice God Gave You
What does this have to do with finding your voice as a writer?
I can’t give you four easy steps. I won’t provide you with an outline. Finding your voice—the voice God gave you—is an organic, intimate process that takes place between you and your Creator. I can tell you that this begins with acknowledging that you, yourself, as you are today, are a writer. Doesn’t matter if you’ve never published a book. Doesn’t matter if you know nothing about how to put a website together. If you long to capture moments, to preserve what you observe, to share a message with the world through words, then you, my friend, are a writer.
Acknowledging this leads to understanding that you are not like everyone else. Those in the publishing world seek to find those who fit a particular mold. They are, in general, risk-averse. They focus on market demands and making money. God bless them for that; someone has to have some business sense, and it’s not me! This is incredibly frustrating for you and me, because we can easily wind up trying to fit ourselves into that mold, losing ourselves and our voices in the process.
In the past, I saw my uniqueness as a very negative thing. Thus, the defensiveness. The constant need to explain and validate my presence in the writing community. In no way am I your typical “woman writer.” I don’t have children; I can’t make a craft to save my life. If left to my own devices, I will eat popcorn for dinner rather than cooking a Pinterest-worthy meal. And if I see another novel set in Amish country, I will scream. (No dig on anyone who enjoys all the above!) My idea of a good time is reading Ezekiel and trying to imagine what he must have seen in his initial vision. He uses words such as “like,” which is a simile—meaning that he can’t quite describe what’s before his eyes.
And I love translating that good time into an article—something I no longer feel the need to defend or explain.
This acceptance of who God made me to be and the voice He’s given me has been a year-long process, still ongoing. In the last twelve months, He has done a real work of grace in my soul, opening my eyes to my role in this thing we call life. Again, I can’t give you a system or steps to follow. What I can do is encourage you to steal away and sit at Jesus’ feet. Allow the quiet to envelop you as you seek to listen for His voice. Ask Him to show you where you are deviating from His design. Ask Him to reveal the areas in which you feel defensive and constantly on guard.
Then ask yourself this question: Am I writing to please Him or to please others?
Because that’s the bottom line. If we’re trying to achieve recognition and success, we’ll lose our authentic voices. We’ll become echoes. We’ll settle for far less than the abundant life of love and secure identity that God provides.
As the meme says, “You do you.” It’s true! The world needs you to be you, and me to be me, and us together, united in our beautiful diversity.
So use the voice God gave you. Write the words only you can write, in the way only you can write them. In so doing, you bring Him glory and do others good.
More on the Craft of WritingWhen we try to achieve recognition and success, we become echoes and lose our authentic voices. Steal away and sit at Jesus’ feet. Allow the quiet to envelop you as you seek to listen for His voice. Ask Him to show you where you are deviating from His design. Finding your voice as a writer is an organic, intimate process that takes place between you and your Creator. Ask yourself: Am I writing to please God or to please others?