Often it takes quite a while and a lot of writing before we feel brave enough to show someone else our precious story – the one that has been rattling inside our brain for ages and had to emerge and find its way on to the page (or screen). It is important to get feedback and let others see your work to tell you what works or doesn’t work for them, and perhaps what may or may not work in a particular line or genre. A big mistake often made by beginner writers is to take on board every piece of advice from various critiques, and systematically change everything that is pointed out to them. If several people have commented and suggested the same change, then the writer should seriously consider reviewing that point. But if you, the writer, change large portions of the manuscript as suggested without really thinking it through, then you risk losing your voice, what makes that story uniquely yours.
Some helpful hints:
*Try reading your work aloud. You’ll find that you might stumble over awkward words or phrasing, or long passages that can be condensed. This is a way to strengthen your style and maintain your voice.
*Be yourself and express yourself. Let your writing mirror your inner self. Don’t try to mimic your favourite authors. Find your own true self in your writing.
*Don’t wait for the “right” moment to write. Just like exercise which should be done regularly to be of any benefit, writing needs to be practiced regularly.
*Think of your writing voice as a chunk of coal - solid carbon. With pressure and outside forces, it becomes a rough rock with promise. Then with practice and polish, it has the potential to be a stunning, sparkling, multi-faceted diamond.
I often tell people who have submitted work to me for editing, “You can fix grammar, punctuation and spelling - they are all easily learned – BUT you can’t fix or learn your voice. This is your individual talent to communicate and bring to life the kernel of an idea and make it compelling reading.”