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.