Who are You?

Who are You?

If you write a lot, I know you get tired of hearing your own voice. I call my tired writing voice, my “whiny voice.” I hate when I get into that mode. It’s when I drone on and think I’m being profound when really all I’m doing is complaining about some mental puzzle I’m not actually solving. Most of the time, I write from my comfortable, worn in, blue jean voice. I write the way I write after years of writing. It feels natural and I don’t think about deviating.

But that voice doesn’t encompass all of who I am. I’m a mother and a business owner, yes. But I’m also a southern Californian who prefers to nap on the beach than in a bed. I like flip flops and sun on my bare shoulders. Yet, I’m also a tireless snow shoveler in Ohio. And someone who lived in foreign countries. I’m smart about ideas and stupid about practicalities. I’m wise about relationships and hopelessly sentimental about love. I get angry at injustice and tearful in movies.

I can write from all these places… if I remember to.

Sometimes, just to change things up,
it helps to adopt an “opposite voice.”

Instead of being reasonable and clear, be unreasonable and chaotic – say things the way they feel rather than the way they should be thought. If you’re a mother, perhaps it’s time to write as the daughter that you also are. Perhaps you can write from the place of child, instead of adult.

Make a list. Who are you?

  • reasonable,
  • whimsical,
  • artist,
  • shy,
  • employee,
  • tightwad,
  • hermit…

Write from one of those identities and see where it leads. You can also write from an inanimate space: tornado, ocean wave, breeze, fierce wind, tree, bulbs in spring. Or pair two things: good/bad, angry/peaceful. Give a freewriting space to each one consecutively.

Once you’ve tried these on your own, help your kids to make a list of identities and see if they can write from new ones. Kids are much more comfortable shedding their traditional voices. They may eagerly choose to write as a favorite character in a book (Luke Skywalker) or they may use the voice of a gaming role online or they may create a voice for themselves (southern belle). Imaginary voices can be just as productive as authentic ones, so don’t put any limits on this exercise.

Shake off the habitual and play with something new.

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