I first met Kate in my yoga teacher training. Something about her laugh and voice drew me to her right away. Turns out Kate is a writer and knows a few things about humor and voice. She recently e-published her first book called, Tips for Earning Tip$: A Humorous How-To on Serving Meat, Mojitos, & “Minnesota Nice”. Mandala Reflections is so lucky to have her as one of our voices on the blog. Read on as she humorously shares tips on how you can find your writers’ voice and in the process maybe find yourself.
“Bazinga!” When you hear this word, who do you think of? If you said Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, you are correct. How do we know this is attributed to him? We know because this is his “voice”.
The same way that we recognize Sheldon’s voice is the way we recognize writers’ voices. When writers use voice, they have some special attributes and vocabulary that makes them distinguishable from others. To write with voice, you have to be unafraid to be your own person.
I first started writing in the second grade. I won a young author’s contest because of the voice I used in my writing. I started a story about my first sledding experience with, “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!” From then on, voice has been my strength.
My newest piece of writing is written completely in my own voice. How did this newest piece of writing come about? I found myself in a situation where I was the outsider at work and I didn’t know how to cope with that. One night after my shift, I came home and started writing down my waitressing experiences from that evening. It started off as therapeutic journaling and then, a few entries later, it morphed into a humorously helpful book for waitresses or people being immersed in a different culture than they are used to. Writing and humor is the best combination to help get you through a situation that is less than ideal.
How do you find your inner voice? I look at it this way. The way in which you talk to your grandmother, your teacher, and your best friends differ, do they not? When talking to elders and respected professionals, we are taught to speak in an intelligent and sophisticated manner. However, it is the way we tell stories to our best friends that brings out our inner voice.
When I began my book about waitressing, it was because I had all of these crazy stories to tell after every shift. I would call my friends and tell them about my customers and how difficult people were throughout the evening. When my friends asked how work went, I would tell them, “Oh my word. I dropped a margarita on this dude and later the dishwasher asked me to go home with him for a few beers. I think I need to rethink this whole push-up bra thing.”
When my grandmother asked the same question, I said, “It went well. I made good tips and only dropped one beverage on a customer.”
While both answers are true, the first one depicts my spot on inner voice. Speaking with my friends doesn’t make me feel like I have to be professional in any way or censor what I’m saying. It is a completely “Kate” depiction of the evening.
I started writing down these work stories. When I was writing them, I didn’t write with any particular limitations. I didn’t need to be professional or serious. It was me writing for therapy; for me. Due to the authenticity of my inner voice, these journal entries ended up as a book.
Writing with voice means that I am putting my own unique signature on my work. If I wrote like everyone else, what would be fun about that? The uniqueness of an author’s inner voice is what will get him/her noticed as a writer. The way that an author uses and accesses her/his voice through writing says a lot about who the author is as a person.
We all have the potential to find our inner voice. Whether the inspiration for this voice comes from a bad job, an old love, or pursuing your dreams, the ability to write passionately in a storytelling manner is within each of us.
3 tips to help find your voice:
1) Don’t agonize over semantics on your first draft; just write down your feelings.
2) If you need to curse, curse. You can always take it out later or replace the words.
3) Read it out loud – if it sounds like you, it’s written in your voice.
Kate Robertson is a writer. You can find out more about her and her writing on her blog. You can also buy her book, Tips for Earning Tip$: A Humorous How-To on Serving Meat, Mojitos, & “Minnesota Nice” on Amazon. Kate grew up in Nebraska and has lived in Minnesota for two years now. She is studying to become a professional writer and a yoga instructor.