The famed Blues Master, The Late Muddy Waters, belted out a song that speaks to the issue of Finding Your Voice as a writer and speaker. A portion of the lyrics say,
She moves me man Honey, and I don't see how it's done She got a pocket full of money The little girl don't try to help me, though What kinda woman is that?
She move a crazy man Who say "now I'm not so dumb" I take her to a funeral boy The dead jumped up to run She look at a deaf and dumb boy Said "now I can speak" She shook her finger in a blind man's face "Once was blind but now I see"
Like Muddy Waters says, "I don't see how it's done." The mystery of finding your voice is in discovering what moves you. Without ears eager to hear both the unique and compelling and, in many cases, not-so-compelling voices of others, one may never find their voice.
Your voice is your signature, the fragrance of your mind wafting from your pen, and the pages you have written.
I am convinced that when you find your unique voice, others will read your work and know that it is your writing or someone you have influenced. The reader may hear echoes of other writers in your works. There is nothing wrong with studying others to find the combination of timing, tone, and timbre that makes their voice move you.
There is the recipe for finding your voice as a writer and a speaker in this secret sauce. It comes by listening and waiting for the writer or speaker whose words make you pause as the words slowly absorb into your heart. It happens when I am reading or listening. What the writer or speaker says, how he or she says it strikes a chord in me. At the strike of that chord, I must look up from the words on the page to allow their voice to penetrate deep into my heart to add, subtract, multiply and divide until some new thought is born in me. At that moment, I grow.
Think of the sensation of cold water pouring over your parched tongue or the first wash of fresh oxygen you breathe in as you emerge from your home into the brisk morning air. You know the feeling. You have a moment, an instant of clarity of thought that inspires you to act.
A great many writers and speakers offer compelling and consequential information in the course of their presentation. The real question is, does it move you. When I read or hear the spoken words that cause me to pause, sit back, and take a deep breath to absorb what I just read or heard, then I'm moved. I might say that it is then that I hear the voice of the writer, or I feel the voice of the speaker. To find your unique and powerful voice, read, and listen. Read and listen with an expectation that what you are going to experience in words will move you.
To quote Muddy Waters
"She moves me, man
Honey, and I don't see how it's done."
The late, great Muddy had it right when you experience the right voice; sanity can return, dead things come alive, the inability to hear and speak reverse, and blindness becomes 20/20 vision. To find your voice, listen!