Sunday, October 23, 2011

Voices of a Love/Hate Relationship

When my children were small, the only time we listened to the radio was when we rode in the car, so I always had command of the controls. My goal was to teach them to be discerning listeners, explaining why I flipped the station each time something inappropriate came over the airwaves. I was guiding them, providing a voice for them, until they began to hear and listen to their own inner voices.

As a writer, I often have a love/hate relationship with voices. I love when the muse whispers to me. I love when my characters seem to write themselves onto my heart, demanding that I put them down on the page. But then there are the voices that tell me I’m not good enough, I’m delusional to think I could ever really do this. That’s the hate part of the equation. But in the end, we all choose who we listen to, don’t we?

I’m thinking about voices a lot this week as I return to my WIP after an eight-week cooling period. In an article I read by Writer’s Digest’s Brian Klems, he shares The Geyser 5-Step Approach to Revision. Step Two he calls Invite the Flow to Return. This was a perfect reminder to me that revisions are not just about addressing the technical issues. It’s about recapturing the feeling you had when you were writing, and letting your characters talk to you again.

In honor of characters who speak to us, I’m sharing on of my favorite songs: Voices.  Enjoy!

Do you have a love/hate relationship with voices? How do you decide which voice to listen to?

Speaking of voices, I’m trying out my reviewer’s voice this week. My daughter, Amanda, invited me to share a book review over on her blog, Born Bookish I hope you’ll check it out!


  1. Ruth, I like the idea of inviting the flow to return. Crave for it, sometimes. I do battle with having too many voices in the head, too. Just really need to get rid of all the critical ones so I can focus on writing and creating. Looking forward to popping by Amanda's blog after this. =)


  2. It's funny that I stumbled on your post today because I have two voices in my head battling it out for my attention. One is the MC of my WIP and the other is a brand new character (I don't even know her name yet) who is being very pushy about me telling her story. She doesn't want to wait her turn. To be honest, I don't know which voice will take over today when I sit down to write.

  3. I enjoyed this post a lot, I too have that love/hate relationship with voices. I definitely hear the ones that say I am not good enough, but I find they are easier to ignore as time goes on. At the moment our schools are shut for a week so the only voices I can hear are those of my 3 children!

  4. It seems like I've spent the past two years revising. My quickest method for quieting the negative voice is to read my manuscript and put myself into my MC's head. In only a few moments and I'm back with her again and in the flow. Interesting post.

  5. Voices everywhere! I hear the positive and the negative, but I do try my best to just ignore the negative : )

    As far as my character's voices go--I just have too many, and it gets confusing sometimes ; )

  6. Voices are such a curse and such a blessing! LOL. I love the song you mentioned too! Can't wait to check out your daughters blog. How fun!

  7. I usually have a voice or two or ten in my head going at all hours of the day. I have learned to shove back the ones that I am not in the mood for. Sometimes they get a bit snippy about it but all will get a turn. The negative ones I ignore all together.


  8. Have tried to post on your blog three or four times, and my google account isn't being recognized by your blog. So I'm trying another approach.

    Enjoyed your post. I appreciate your sharing your vulnerability. Think we all struggle at times to the negative brain chatter that loves to loop in our minds. Battling never helped. I try to observe and not judge when it happens -- and try to laugh. I send it my love and ask that is go silent so I can do what I need to. Great post and I enjoyed all the comments.

    Patricia Tilton

  9. Love this song! And yeah, I definitely hear those voices on both sides of the fence. I try to mostly listen to the positive ones. :)

  10. Sometimes those character voices drive me bonkers. I think they're out to keep me from finishing the draft I'm so close to wrapping up. Then, of course, I have that other voice--the critic within--that won't shut up. It often drowns out those characters that are telling me I'm on the right track with them, so I have to get tough with old Critic and send him packing.

    Loved your post.

  11. Yes! I know exactly what you mean. One minute I can't wait to get to writing what my character is telling me and the next I'm thinking what business I have thinking I can do this at all! You are right it's about which one we choose to listen to.
    Oh and thanks for your comment on my last post, you had me laughing about your mom asking you if you were done 4 days into revisions! :)

  12. Boy can I relate. Sometimes the negative voices drown out everything else, sometimes I can hear a small, still voice of hope. I guess I deal with it by trying to meditate. Mindfulness helps, reminding me to pay not to much attention to any of the voices.

  13. You and me! Same place. Uh-huh! I pray. God usually helps the negative voices to leave my head. And I write. That really helps too. I show the negativity than I can too write!

    Happy Halloween. *waving*

  14. Claudine - Yes, the trick is always in drowning out the bad with the good.

    Kelly - I'll bet the pushy one won, huh? They always do.

    Rebecca - LOL. Well, those voices are good too! Enjoy the school vacation.

    Jennifer - I'm heading over to read your post on revision. . .

    MG - Wow, that's a lot of revising. Sounds like you've gotten good at getting back in the flow.

    Katie - Lots of voices, as long as they're the good kind, is great. Good luck sorting them out.

    Abby - You're right. A curse and a blessing - like so many things in life.

    Courtney - Ten sounds a little hectic, but it sounds like you've got them under control ;)

    Patricia - Thanks so much for taking the time to battle with my blog's comment gremlins. I love what you shared about your process for dealing with negative brain chatter. I'm going to try it myself.

    Janet - I guess we all hear from both sides.

    C.Lee - I know you're right. I was pretty confident in dealing with inner critic in regards to my short stories. But with the newness of taking on a novel, I somehow gave him a foothold and he's taken advantage of it. I think I've finally knocked him back down to size.

    Coleen - Glad you got a laugh from that. I can laugh now too, although at the time I think I rolled my eyes.

    Hope - Sounds like a good strategy. It's good to know what helps for others.

    Robyn - Yes! I pray about it too, and then God reminds me that he would not have given me this ability if he didn't want me to make the most of it.

  15. Good food for thought! I usually combat the negative voice with scripture and action. The voices do make an interesting blend sometimes. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  16. I love the voices, but there are so many clamoring right now! And, yes, I get those negative voices, too. It's hard to ignore them and move on. I like that way of looking at it...that you are inviting the flow to return. So true!

  17. I think every writer struggles with those voices - we love some and hate the others! It's all part of the fun!

  18. Oh, those pesky voices. I know exactly what you mean. It's hard to pretend not to hear the negative voices when I try to concentrate on going forward with my story.

    Thank you for sharing the link to Brian's article.

  19. There are definitely stories that want to be told just as there are people who are waiting to hear them. It's the in-between part that's tough. But here's to the right kind of voices to give us the push we need.

  20. So cool that your daughter blogs as well! I'll go check out your review.

    I never really have the 'hate' side of that relationship with my characters' voices. Sometimes there are certain characters who won't leave me alone though. hehe

  21. My mind is a battleground of voices. I've accepted it. There's always an escape through long walks, music, and other diversions.