Monday, January 11, 2016

Voice Lessons

2016 is the year of the voice. My voice. Choosing to use it. And not to use it.

Every New Year I find I become reflective about what I want to focus on, and as the calendar pushed us into 2016, I kept coming back to voice. Writers love this word. At least I do. There’s this elusive wonder attached to a writer’s voice. I’m reading an author with an extremely strong writing voice right now. I’m halfway through Gillian Flynn’s DARK PLACES. And whether or not you find her stories twisted and her premises disturbing, it would be hard to argue that she lacks voice. There’s no mistaking when I’ve picked up one of her books.

So, yes, obviously I want to continue to strengthen my writing voice.

I’m also going to be intentional about something else voice-related.

When not to use my voice.

In this era of share-all to be-all, I’ve grown quiet fascinated with getting quieter. Studying some of my wisest mentors and people who’ve earned my respect, I tend to notice a familiar thread. They don’t share every little opinion. They don’t always feel they need to argue. They aren’t fighting to be heard.

Because they’re focusing on something revolutionary. My mentors concentrate on listening, and they know how to discern whether what they choose to share will bring value to a moment or just muddy it up.

The world is already mud-saturated. And I happen to believe all of the oversharing contributes to many things we haven’t even felt the repercussions of yet. Like entitlement, the false ideology we are always in the know or that we’re always right. I think it invites stress and prompts unnecessary arguments. It makes some appear foolish, desperate, and in love with shock value. It offers the false assumption words are enough when action is far better.

Hear me clearly on this. There is a time and place to rise up, to let my words and my views find their way out in the world. But there’s much to be said about taking a moment to ascertain when I’ve encounter that time and that place.

Until then, I’ll be observing all of it. And making up my own mind.

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