When I was a teenager, I wrote tons of fan fic. I wrote a Star Trek novel, a Perry Mason novel, a Sherlock Holmes story. This was excellent practice. No one told me that I couldn’t write those things, that they wouldn’t be published because of copyright issues. I wrote when I wanted to read.
There was a point in my 20s when I realized that I still hadn’t figured out what my “voice” was. People talked all the time about how important voice was, and I believed it was true. I could see voice in the writers I read and reread. I could hear it in my head when I put the books down. Those characters were alive beyond the words on the page.
But how to do that myself? I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to have a voice like that, which of course, you can never do. You can’t borrow another person’s voice. Occasionally, I’d hear people say that you can’t write until you’re older, because you don’t have “important” things to say about life until then, which I thought was typical adult crap, devaluing the things that young people do.
Maybe there is some truth to the reality that you get older and you find voice isn’t such a struggle anymore. But if so, it’s because you stop caring what other people think. It’s not that you stop trying to do what other people do, or that what you have to say is suddenly more important, though.
Some tips to finding your voice:
1. If you’re angry, write while you’re angry.
2. If you’re sad, write in that moment, with tears dripping down your face.
3. Write up your most embarrassing moments. Every detail.
4. Make fun of writers and writing you think is ridiculous.
5. Write about food. Or about running. Or about your children. Write about what makes you passionate. Write about things no one else cares about.
6. Write endings to stories that finished wrong. Write better versions of things that you wanted to love.
7. Write dangerous things.
8. Write about the things you don’t want anyone to know about yourself.
9. Write about people no one else sees.
10. Write mashups that no one likes but you.