On Voice: The Hidden Nerve

Don't all writers have a hidden nerve, call it a secret chamber, something irreducibly theirs, which stirs their prose and makes it tick and turn this way or that, and identifies them, like a signature, though it lurks far deeper than their style, or their voice or other telltale antics? - Andre Acimen
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I believe we know when we're being true to our voice.

For me, it's the way my heart rate escalates as I find the words to articulate something I've been trying to say forever. Or the ease I feel as my fingers fly over the keys while I type. There's no hitch — no question — no doubt. It's the rhythm and flow of my art and whenever I feel this, I know I've hit a nerve. I know I'm writing well. Even more important: I know I'm listening well.

Hit a nerve and you're going to feel it. Despite the attempts at hiding or our own fear of speaking out, when we crash into our voice we know. It's like finding an old friend. The nostalgia kicks in and we remember.


A few years ago, I was on Skype with one of my mentors. We were talking over a site she created and my participation in the collaboration. Was I still in it to write? Did I have the energy to invest?

"I think I do," I said. "I've gained a lot of clarity these past few weeks. I know what it is I'm supposed to focus on in my writing, and so I believe it'll show."

She smiled.

"Good. Because I can tell something's been missing from your writing. Your post about peonies and business? It was the shift. That's when you found yourself again."

I nodded.

"That's when I stopped caring about other people's assumptions."

We got off the call and I walked outside with my dog. Standing there in the dried up dirt of our dog park, I thought of this post. I went inside, sat at my desk, and wrote it — crying the entire time.

Writing is visceral for me. It takes up every space and if it doesn't, I feel the lack.

And so does my voice.


To write requires an ego, a belief that what you say matters. Writing also requires an aching curiosity leading you to discover, uncover, what is gnawing at your bones. Words have a weight to them. - Terry Tempest Williams

Do you know when you’re being true to your voice?

We all make different connections. Today, think about your life spent writing. What are some touching-stones revealing to you the process of knowing when you've listened to your voice? Name them below.

What were you writing about that got you so keyed-up and excited? 

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Posted on April 27, 2017 and filed under Indie Publishing, Building Your Craft.