Sunday, February 13, 2011

Advice to Writers: Finding Your Voice

"You ask how a writer finds their voice. Now that's a question! Everyone has a voice, in life and in print, but finding it in print takes time. There's no technique to finding it... Yes, imitate like hell. Everyone does. Gaining a voice, whatever that is, comes with experience and practice - and the writing, again, is indivisible from the person. I never - never - just sit here, thinking, what's my voice? You might as well ponder, who am I? It is, in fact, the very same thing. You can wonder your whole life and never get an answer to that.

"So the voice exists simply because you exist. You find your voice by writing. By experience. It doesn't matter what exactly you're writing, just that you are writing. Then one day someone will say, 'You've really found your voice with that piece', and you'll think, eh? Really?

"Everyone should find their own way to write. You must. Thing is, copying isn't just copying, it's selecting. It's not just a dumb process. You can be aware of the fact, yes, but what you're not so consciously aware of is the stuff that you're choosing not to use. If you happen to like my one-line-pause technique, you'll know you lifted it off me. At the same time, you'll have discarded techniques from my scripts that you don't like. That's not merely copying, but selecting, editing, and adapting. It's a good, intelligent process of choosing, not imitating. So grab it all. From anyone. Read scripts, lots of them.

"If you're thinking of writing your first script, well I know what it's like. It's so easy to put off. Maybe you just don't write until you're ready, but I worry that's too easy an excuse, because then you could spend your whole life being not-quite-ready. You've got to start. The kids writing Skins are in their teens and early twenties! There's no time to waste! The whole world is full of unwritten scripts. Don't be stifled or strangled."

- Russell T. Davies

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