Finding Your Voice - Instructions for Living a Life

Writing - Finding Your Voice

Your unique voice is the way you move through the world, the way you express yourself, the worlds you create. Finding your own voice and feeling at home with it gives you confidence and power.

Writing can help us find our own voice, which in turn allows us to create new ways of interacting, new beliefs, and even new experiences! Finding your own voice is the freedom to be yourself, to say what you came here to say.

Finding your own voice helps improve your public speaking, your written stories or blogs, and your conversations with others.  It can even lend clarity to your internal world, and its constant flow of thoughts.

How can we each find our own voice?  It’s a lifetime process, so it’s time to get started.  

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

― Mary Oliver

The title of this tiny gem from Mary Oliver, one of the most universally beloved writers of our time, is “Instructions for living a life”.  It could just as well be “Instructions for finding your own voice”.  Perhaps those two concepts are one and the same!  Let’s look more closely at the three instructions from this great poet:

Pay attention.

Part of finding your own voice is the ability to hear, see and deeply experience whatever is around you. None of us is separate from the individual moments of our lives, but instead each of us is a culmination, an interweaving of those moments. Paying attention to even the smallest activity of the day may unearth some of the most important things you want to say!

If you get caught in a sudden summer rain, for example, you might try staying with the experience, rather than running for shelter.  Later you might even write about it.  “It only rained for five minutes, but I felt each drop.”  How did you feel each drop?  As a warning?  An assurance?  A reminder?  A respite from the heat?  A shivery pleasure? This brief five-minute slice of your daily life might lead to new realizations about yourself and even a new story or two!

Being receptive to your own life is an important step toward finding your voice.  Writing down your reactions to the small things of the day might be a good practice.  At the end of the day you can sort through your notes, and perhaps start to see a pattern.  Your unique voice may start to take shape, simply by you paying more attention!

Be astonished.

Finding your own voice means allowing yourself to feel astonishment!  If you take large parts of your world for granted, you may also take yourself for granted, and never discover the unique viewpoint and fresh approach that is truly You.

Not everything will astonish you, no matter how open you are.  Pay special attention to those people or events or situations that truly excite you.  Do you love early morning bird song? Perhaps your voice embraces nature.  Is the cacaphony of rush-hour traffic more to your liking?  Perhaps yours is a city voice. 

Tell about it.

Don’t worry about how you’re saying it, just say it.  Write something, read it aloud, write more, read it aloud. Shout it. Whisper it. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It doesn’t even have to be good. Just write what you see, what you love, what has astonished you, over and over.  Your voice, unique and precious, will slowly arise, make itself known, build you a strong creative home, help you fine-tune your words until they are just what you want them to be, in your own unique and special voice.

Start now. A new life of adventure lies ahead.

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