Dating My Authentic Voice

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I’ve started dating my authentic voice and I am pretty darn stoked about it.

Let me tell you about how we met.

It came like a boom of thunder on a clear sky night. I was in one of my favorite “safe” spaces – an evening drop-in writing workshop – and had just admitted to the group that since I had stopped screenwriting, I had been floundering around voiceless in what my style was. Sure, I had been vomiting fear into my journal every morning but it’s gooky stream of conscious stuff that is supposed to free up the writer inside. For me it had become the writing.

In a round robin introduction, I admitted to the intimate group that I hadn’t creatively written in over a month.  Since I left my identity as a screenwriter behind, and stopped writing scripts, I hadn’t found my new writing voice.  It felt like I had finally told a dirty shameful writer secret and I saw that I had been holding that in with a lot of weighty shame. I had told myself the bliss and satisfaction I received working with book clients reading their amazing work and editing their chapters was writing, right?

Justification dresses up denial and I was in a winter coat.

It’s not that I forget I need to write, I just didn’t know who to write as anymore.

In a very profound way, in this moment of revelation, with the host’s two dogs snoring on a couch, and clutching my 99 cent notebook, I was liberated by the fact that I had desperately wanted a new writer beginning, and it was starting right now. I had been forcing it to happen for years, getting mad at it, abandoning it, co-dependency with it, criticism…  and then I just surrendered, left it alone and nothing happened for a while.

After our first creative prompt to write about what you are not… and listening to my fellow writers read their work in the room, I saw my own writing in a completely different light.

I was nothing like these other writers and they were nothing like me.

I had a unique style that was just mine, and for the first time I started to consider, what would I pick to write about that best fit my writing?

There was a shift right there in the room. I would honor and write for my unique voice instead of beating myself up for why I couldn’t write like that writer or write that style or write that kind of story or book.

If I asked my authentic voice what material would suit it, I would be writing in a new way. Instead of, “Here voice, figure out how to write this or I am going to make you feel like a loser,” I said, “Hey voice, you are awesome and kind of weird and very descriptive. You wrap up short exercises really well, and you have a lot of specific descriptives… I would like to honor your strengths. What would you like to write?”

Now if I could just translate this philosophy to marriage.

Nicole pointed out to me, as a screenwriter, I had a leg up on many people. I knew structure like the back of my hand.  It was part of my cellular creative system. I also knew the importance of scene. Knowing this, I could set myself free to fill in the blanks with my writing voice in the fiction arena. I could be more descriptive and fluid.  There were no rules except for one.

Know thy own writing style and love on it.

I love this quote from Brenda Ueland… “This is what I learned: that everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.

I was excited to write more from me. It was like a new relationship! I wanted to have some fun and go on lots of dates with my new writer voice and yet also not have expectations that were too high and make sure I didn’t over share and burn out.

There was a new warranting to the purpose of writing again. I had found a new path. It didn’t happen until I let go completely but “chopped wood, drew water.” I got to the groups and shared my concerns. I let go of my ego. I allowed myself to complain a little.

Then I started again to write.

 

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Kim O'Hara

About Kim O'Hara

Prior to launching her business A Story Inside as a book and story coach, Kim spent her adult life as a producer and screenwriter of independent film, developing countless projects from script to screen. On the never-ending quest to know more about writers and writing, she has taken short fiction, satire and screenwriting classes at UCLA, Stanford Writers’ Lab and San Jose State. To hone her skills in comedy and collaboration, she survived an Improv Intensive at IO West. She was also the Editor of a prominent food journal, charged with the task of making subjects like antibiotics in meat a riveting read. She is passionate about intuitively and mindfully connecting women entrepreneurs to their hidden greatness and help them achieve their unrealized dream to write a book. Her children are the root of her existence, her true teachers.