When I began my career as a writer, I struggled to find my voice. Whenever I tried to write, I would inevitably drift into the style of another author. Sure, I’d heard that “good artists borrow; great artists steal,” but I felt like a fraud. Little did I know, I wasn’t alone.
For a long time, I thought real writers were born with innate talent, some style that was just waiting to get onto the page. Turns out, that’s not true.
We find our voices by mimicking the voices of others. Great writers do not try to be original. They copy the work of the masters.
Our parents told us to try our best. Whether at school or Little League, we were encouraged to give it our all, and that was enough to make them proud.
But the truth is there are different kinds of trying, and not all efforts are equal. In order to achieve excellence, we need to practice deliberately.
I love memoir, always have. Anne Lamott, David Sedaris, Annie Dillard, even Stephen King. There’s something magical about the ability to transform ordinary circumstances into beautiful scenes that teach a deeper truth.
Twenty years ago, it seemed the only people qualified to write memoir were the incredibly famous and the I’m-so-disgustingly-rich-I’d-better-write-a-book elite. The rest of us had better keep our mouths shut… or turn our life’s story into a novel.
But recently, more “normal” people are writing powerful reflections on everyday life. So what’s to stop you and me from joining them?