From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Voice and Vulnerability (Or What I Learned in Acting Class)


About a year ago I took an acting class. Not only was it life-changing, but I learned quite a bit that applies directly to good writing. One of those things was what good, natural voice feels like. I learned that better in that class then I have anywhere else.

When I thought too much and over-prepared; when I thought 'Alright everyone, now I shall ACT'; those were the times the teacher would stop and correct me. Tell me to be more natural. When I just stood up there and said my piece, that was when I was told I had done right, and complimented. The thing is, after the good times, I would sit down and feel like I had done absolutely nothing. I would feel slightly exposed, but not like I had just given a performance, and definitely not like I had been 'Acting.' I felt like I had not given enough, or been self-concious or thoughtful enough, until I realized and was told that was how it was supposed to feel. What I learned about voice is this: when you feel you've done the least is when you've done the most.

Here's why I think it works this way: because when you are most yourself, most natural and vulnerable, you don't feel like you are "performing" or creating anything artistic or spectacular. You just feel like you're being you. EXACTLY. I still worry that me being me will be dull, too wacky, or incomprehensible to someone else, but thats what readers and editors are for. They'll help you know where to make changes, but 95% of the time, you will be pleasantly surprised at how unique, wonderful and appreciated you are when you're you. Seriously. You're used to being in your head, but no one else is. Let them. You don't have to say, 'Ok everyone, now I shall WRITE!'. Just write. The more vulnerable you are, the more people will relate to you, which is the point of all art. (see Empathy). It will be uncomfortable, especially at first, but it is worth it.

Sarah Allen

18 comments:

  1. true words. I totally agree and thank you that you share those beautiful things with us^^

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  2. Very wise words. I think the reason is that all good writing - or acting - is about finding the quiet truth behind the words. But sometimes, the quiet truth is the hardest to achieve because it involves real honesty.

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  3. Love your post. I've been editing my WIP so much as I've been learning about the craft I worry I'll edit all the fun out of it. *sigh*

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  4. Love your line: "when you think you've done the least, you've done the most". It's appropriate in so many other aspects of our lives too.

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  5. Absolutely excellent. Thank you so much for the insight. :)

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  6. That's an excellent comparison. I agree totally with how you described voice here. The thing authors need to keep in mind is that we can't hear our own voice in our writing. We're too used to it because it's the lens through which we always view the world. We think our voice sounds "normal" or "boring". But to people who aren't us, it is unique and different. We need to just write from our creative brain and trust that our voice is there.

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  7. Clapping! Yes, we can overanalyze and get so uptight the words get all blocked up, when if we just let them flow, generally the voice finds itself.

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  9. That was a truly great post. There are even times during this blog challenge when I've felt that way - like I had to conform my posts in some way - keep them short so people would stay to read - stuff like that. I feel like my blog should be what I want to say, the way I want to say it, and when I did that, I sometimes got fewer readers, but those that did stay to read really connected. That means more to me. So great lesson, and well put.

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  10. Agree! I have noticed that whenevr I knew the camera was on me my voice sounded odd..higher pitched. not so when I was not aware. Great "V" post. Blessings, Joanne

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  11. What an awesome post. I don't think you have a dull bone in you and I only just met you;)

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  12. I stopped by for a visit after receiving your comment on my blog,and wow! I believe this post was written just for me. I've wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I keep looking up and days, weeks, months, years keep passing by. I think too much. Before putting one work on paper I'm already analyzing my "audience", trying to figure out what they want to hear and not thinking enough about what I have to say, what I want to write. Just recently, in the middle of the night I wrote these words by book lamp, "This book is dedicated to me. It will be like my own coming out party." Your post confirms.
    Thank you for this great and timely post. Best wishes on your writing!

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  13. Wonderful insight and information, thank you!

    Good luck with the rest of the A to Z Challenge!

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  14. I loved this post. It's all about self consciousness and authenticity. What resonates for me is your idea that you're used to being in your head but no one else is. Be that that you are! Real. Yes!
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  15. This is really great advice. It's hard to put yourself out there and be vulnerable but our best writing comes from it. :)

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  16. Hi Sarah, I nominated you for an award on my blog. Please stop by to pick it up.

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  17. Wise words. I think that in many of our endeavors we have to put on the right hat for the job, metaphorically speaking.

    On another note, I never had any desire to act or to do anything with acting when I was growing up, but in recent years, probably as I have begun to develop as a writer and to express myself, I have a feeling that I would rather enjoy it.

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  18. Good post. I work in theater and I'm always learning about writing by working with actors in the process of putting on a play.

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