At a young age, teachers and parents tell children that they can be anything they want to be. This concept opens the mind of a child to a world of possibilities. There is nothing more precious than a child’s imagination. They live in a world they have to create for themselves. As we age, we learn to harness that imagination and put it in creative outlets like art and literature. After this step in life, we are told to refine it. Forget the emotion. Forget the invention. Follow the rubric. Follow the rubric. Follow the rubric…
While following the rubric is not necessarily a bad thing, it condenses the creativity. I built most of my literary voice in my teenage years. While writing essays gave me a voice among my english class, trying to please the teacher kept me from imagining a career in writing. I honestly never considered the thought until writing blog posts. William Zinsser’s book “On Writing Well” explains that for one to obtain a writing voice when they don’t have one, they should write in his or her comfort zone. For many, this means writing nonfiction. Nonfiction allows the writer to do research to expand and idea and not rely on a lack of creativity that may have been squeezed out in those formative years. Besides research, just practice, practice, practice (Another tip: the children’s book Eloise taught me that if you want to make an effect, say it three times). As Zinsser says, “Motivation is at the heart of writing.”
When finding your creative voice, another way to learn is by reading. Even though this is basically a trial and error process, if you read enough, you will eventually find out which genre you like, which styles you like and which authors or journalists you like. At least for me, after I read enough, my brain will not shut up. I have so many ideas that I have to write them down. I suggest journaling to get out good ideas and refine the bad ones. Although it doesn’t create a “fan base,” journalling creates your voice and ideas that you can later publicize.
Creating a journalistic voice is not only important in a writing field, but in life as well. If you are closed off, indecisive, or an intellectual recluse, you won’t make a successful life in any field. Carrying on intelligent, or humorous conversation is Adult Life 101. To know your voice, you have to know your heart, know your mind, and know your surroundings. You have to let yourself grow and learn from mistakes. Attempt to replicate the creativity of your childhood with the mental filter of your antisocial teen years. If there is one thing studying Classics taught me, it is to learn from the past because history often repeats itself. Learn from your mistakes, and to take a lesson from the Greeks, “Know thyself.”