Each semester in my World Literature course, I help students identify the author’s voice: the rhetorical mixture of vocabulary, tone, point of view, syntax etc. This voice makes phrases, sentences and paragraphs flow in a particular manner. Aristotle taught that the writer’s voice should possess: intelligence or good sense, honesty, and benevolence or goodwill. “No one gives what he does not have”!! Writers are not the only ones with a “voice”—we all have a voice.
What does it mean to “find your voice”, metaphorically speaking? Part of your voice comes from your vocabulary, or your lexicon, which consists of every word (and language) that you have acquired since birth: your life experiences, your parents and siblings, your teachers, mentors, friends, etc. In the same way, we are contributing daily to other’s lexicons- our children, spouses, co-workers, friends-therefore, every word must count!! If you have a strong vocabulary, you’ll be able to convey your ideas, thoughts and emotions more succinctly. Being able to choose your words with greater precision will serve you throughout your life in situations such as higher education, job interviews, business settings and personal relationships.
Secondly, part of discovering this voice is to have the ability to use your own understanding through your thoughts. Plato said that “educating the young does not consist in telling them new things; it consists in extracting from their memories that which they already know”. This is exactly what writing is: extracting from your memory that which you already know and communicating it in your voice.
Next, your voice consists of life experiences in your home, school, church, community, friendships, relationships, etc. During your formidable years, you were shaped by many influences; some good, some not so good. As you allow God to help you find your voice (that HE created!!), you will take these ideas and begin to think for yourself, to allow yourself the freedom of the need to think. What a wonderful gift God has given us: the physical ability to think using our complex brain.
Finally, your voice consists of your passions and interests. What genre of literature appeals to you? Are you an historian? Do you like the imagination and possibilities presented in Fiction or Science Fiction? What is your personality type? Do you know your Enneagram number? Are you an extrovert or introvert? All of these factors make up your voice.
Finding our voice involves input as much as output and listening as much as speaking. It is important to think on what we are putting in our minds:
- digesting the golden nuggets we are gleaning from what we read: scriptures, textbooks, articles, literature will serve our lexicon much more than just reading social media;
- think on who we are and what makes us special and unique in God’s sight;
- “Think on things above” as Paul exhorts to the Colossians;
- Think on our future place in this world and how to prepare ourselves mentally through education, physical and spiritual health.
Oh my, there are many other things to “think” about, but these are a good start. Whether we find our voice or not, we use it every day. What are you adding to your “voice” today? Make it count!
Copyright 2021 by Robyn Lowrie. May be quoted in part or full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com).