Literary musings, and news you can use, with amye archer
Shout it Out! Finding your voice in 2013.
I know, I know, it’s already three weeks into the new year. You’re over it. So why am I still talking about it? Well, aside from my usual resolutions: losing weight, working out, spending more time with the family, etc…, I make what I like to call a teacher’s resolution. And that resolution is the same each year: to help a new writer find his or her voice. I think I accomplished that in 2012 (at least I hope I did). So to kick off 2013 right, and perhaps to get a big head start on accomplishing my goal, I’d like to share with you a list of questions I use to aid my students in their search. First, some background.
What is voice? English teachers have a hard time defining it, and writing teachers know it’s almost impossible to “teach” voice, yet we can all agree on one thing. When you hear it, you know it. Take my voice, for example. If you read the column regularly, you know I usually write in one of two voices. I can be rather snarky and self-deprecating when writing about my struggles in life or on the page. Then, I can be very soft and tender when writing about my children or my students. The difference is the voice.
Here’s the list of 10 questions I give my students every semester. It began as a list I found on Accidental Creative, and has now been tweaked to include my own prompts. By answering these, you’re exploring your mind and your heart. Write a paragraph (at least) for each answer.
1. What angers you? What fire burns inside of you? What do you rail against?
2. What makes you cry? Think about the last several instances that caused you to cry. Movies are fair game, too. What moves you to tears?
3. What is something you gave away that you wish you hadn’t?
4. What gives you hope? What do you look forward to? What great vision do you have for your future and the future of others?
5. As a child, what scared you the most? What scares you the most now?
6. What did your mother’s voice sound like to you at age 5? At 20? Now?
7. What would blow your mind? Take about an hour to list 40 things that would blow your mind if they happened. You’ll get to about 15 before you find it difficult. Keep going. List out everything that would thrill you if it were to happen, including relational things, business things, travel, ambitions, hopes, etc…
8. What platform do you own? No need to start over. Build from where you are. What platform do you already have for self-expression? What foundation can you build on to begin affecting the kinds of change you’d like to see?
9. What will your grandchildren write about you? What will they remember most?
10. If you had one day left, how would you spend it? If you knew that you would evaporate at midnight, how would you spend your last day on earth?
These questions help my students think about themselves and the world around them in a more concrete way. By answering them and reflecting on your feelings about each question, you can start to form a slant or a perspective from which you approach things. I hope you’ll answer these and pass them on to a friend.
It’s 2013, let’s all find our voices this year!
Amye Barrese Archer is a writer and teacher in Scranton. You can read more about her at www.amyearcher.com.