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Find Your Writing Voice Through Guide Poets

Finding Your Writing Voice
“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.” ― George Bernard Shaw

As writers, we tend to strive for originality. We don’t want our work to be a copy of someone else’s; we want to write words that are unique. But what if I was to tell you that you should imitate other writers? Would you believe me if I said that mimicry can help you write more authentically? The fact is, every one of us has authors who influence the way we write, and by studying those authors, we learn how to grow in the areas we care about most. Guide poets can lead the way as you find your writing voice.

So What is A Guide Poet?

A guide poet, put simply, is a writer whose voice resonates with your own. Think of your guide poet as a kindred spirit. In their works, you’ll find a style that matches the tone of your words or a way of thinking that speaks to you. Their writing will sound like something you would say. This isn’t just an author you like; it’s an author you understand and who you feel understands you, although you’ve never met.

How to Find Your Guide Poets

Choosing guide poets is a bit like choosing friends: it’s a mix of chance and intentionality. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Start with your nightstand-The collection of books you keep ready at hand are a great indicator of your current interests. Make a stack of the books you always have nearby; the books you list off as your favorites and the ones you reread often. Even though not all of your favorite authors are guide poets, chances are your guide poets will be found among your favorite authors.
  2. Evaluate your collection— Look at each of the books in your stack and consider why you’re drawn to them. Do you like them just because they’re fun to read or you learned from them? Or, do they connect with you on a deeper level? If you find yourself underlining whole passages of a text or thinking “I wish I’d written that,” then you may have found a writing guide.
  3. Pick your guides–Ultimately, who your guide poets are boils down to who you want them to be. If you feel like you connect with a bunch of different writers, focus on the ones you’d most like to emulate. Find the ones who best match the goals you have for yourself and make them your models.

 How Your Guides Help You Find Your Voice

Once you find authors whose voices resonate with your own, who you feel connected to and want to learn from, it’s time to consider how they can help you find your voice. There are two main ways these writers can help.

First, Defining Your Voice:

Guide poets can help you decide what you want your voice to sound like. Your writing voice is the underlying tone and message that weaves through everything you put on the page. It’s the flavor that makes your writing distinct, and it stems from both the way you write and the reason you write. Guide poets help you define your voice by helping you recognize the aspects of writing you are most focused on.

When you read the work of the authors who influence you, take note of why you connect with them. Do you love the way they write characters? Is their message something you care about too? Make a list of the different characteristics you admire in their work and then compare it to your own writing. As you begin to find overlap between your style and goals and theirs, you can start to put into words the characteristics of your voice.

For example, studying my guide poets (J.R.R. Tolkien, William Joyce, and Annie Dillard) helped me realize that one of my main goals in writing is to take small, simple parts of life and show the value and wonder to be found in them. I realized I love books with lots of description, color, and light, and so these were aspects that I wanted to focus on in my projects.

Second, Developing Your Voice:

Guide poets can also help you develop your voice through imitation. By mimicking the aspects of your guide poet’s style which resonate with you, you can test out different parts of your voice. You aren’t giving up your uniqueness, but rather using similar authors to learn the skills you need to grow. In taking on the style of another, we can’t help but make it our own. That’s why a thousand different poems can be written in the same form without becoming the same poem. The guide poets simply become a shell, an outline, that we fill with our own color and design.

Here’s a simple exercise to try.  Give yourself 30 minutes to write as much as you can in the voice of one of your guide poets. By putting on their style for a moment, you’ll exercise your creative muscles in the areas you desire to develop.

 

At the end of the day, God has gifted each of us differently. Your story is distinct from all others; your voice is unique to you. The influence of others doesn’t take away our ability to find our own tune, but rather enhances our ability by offering us a chance to sing in harmony.  When we learn from guide poets,  we take what is offered to us and make it into something new.  In them, we find both mentors that guide us as we find our voices and friends who make the journey easier to travel.

So who are some of the guide poets in your writing journey?

 

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Karley Conklin is a part-time librarian, part-time editor, and full-time bookworm. On her blog http://litwyrm.com/, she discusses all sorts of literature, from poetry to picture books. Her goal is to use the power of stories to remind others of hope and joy in a world that all too often forgets both.
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Let’s Get the Juices Flowing!

 

Here’s a sneak peek at the Conference sessions, described by the presenters themselves. Watch for new “teaser” posts each Monday.

You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

See:  https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

 

                                                 

Todd Williams –  Engaging Pages

What does it take to truly communicate with your readers? Believe it or not, God’s Word gives us some extremely helpful insights about good, engaging writing. The term logos (translated “Word” in 1 John 1:1) is full of meaning and wisdom that can help us become more skilled in the creative use of words. Come ready to learn practical ways to understand the logic of communication guided by biblical concepts.

 

 

 

 

Lori Hatcher – (Practically) Painless Editing for the Grammatically-Challenged

 

Everyone loves to write, but few love to edit. If you want to rise to the top of the slush pile (or avoid it altogether), creative editing can make all the difference in the worldd wurld werld world. If parallelism sounds to you like a gymnastic event, the Oxford comma a dance you might do in the UK, and the singular “they” like a personality disorder, this is the workshop for you. We’ll laugh and learn our way through ten of the most common manuscript errors and have fun doing it in this hands-on, interactive workshop.

 

Vanessa Fortenberry – Importance of the 3R’s – WRiting, Research, and Revision

 

 

So you think you’re familiar with the three R’s. Be assured; it’s not the basic skills you learned in school. Of course, you remember reading, writing, and arithmetic. Who doesn’t? If you’re like most of us writers, fractions are not one of your strengths. Therefore, let’s change the equation a little. Instead, let’s take away the math; add a dash of Writing, a smidgen of Research and a pinch of Revision. Attend “Writing 101: The Importance of the 3 R’s (WRiting, Research, and Revision)” and walk away with a mixture of handy measurements for successful writing!

 

Jean Matthew Hall – What is a Picture Book?

 

A picture book illustrator needs to tell a story with pictures.

A picture book author needs to show the same story with words.

So, how are they woven together to make one compelling story?

In Jean Matthew Hall’s workshop, “What Is A Picture Book,” we’ll work together to decide what authors need to say, and NOT to say, in their picture book manuscripts, and leave everything else to the illustrators

Attention Teens!! (Teen Track – grades 6 – 12)

      You have a Warm-Up Session with Daniel Blackaby – “Worldbuilding”

Join Daniel from 3:15-3:55

Imagine that you suddenly were given the power to create the world from scratch. What sort of world would it be? Would there be endless summers? A purple sun? Do dragons dwell there? Can people fly?  If you’re a writer, then you do have this power. Great books teleport us into imaginative and exciting new worlds. Have you visited Narnia? Middle-Earth? Tatooine? Hogwarts? Panem? Oz? Westeros? Pandora? All the great books have well-crafted worlds. In this seminar, you will not only learn how to do worldbuilding, you will become a worldbuilder yourself! Join Daniel Blackaby and others in this fun and interactive experience and see what crazy world you can build together! 

AND

Teen Keynote with Daniel Blackaby

“Tolkien, Lewis, & Christian Imagination”

4:00-5:00

How would you feel if your best friends called your book “almost worthless” or a “carelessly written jumble”? This was J. R. R. Tolkien’s review of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The two dear friends are forever linked together as fathers of Christian fiction and Art, but each had a radically different idea of what Christian fiction should be. Their greatest legacy was not to establish a narrow template for Christian writers to follow, but to demonstrate that there is no template. In this seminar, Daniel Blackaby will explore these two vastly different approaches and showcase the great freedom you have as a Christian writer.