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June 27, 2012

Finding Your Creative Voice and Using Your Actual Voice

by Howard Suber

Six months before he died last year of throat cancer, the always-interesting columnist, thinker and writer Christopher Hitchens  wrote an article in which he mused on the relationship between one’s creative voice and one’s actual voice ( If you want to see what your creative “voice” sounds like, he suggested, listen to your actual voice – read your writing aloud.

I think it’s excellent advice, and I wish especially that screenwriters, who must write for the ear and not the eye, would do so routinely.

Hitchens points out that Henry James and Joseph Conrad both dictated much of their greatest work. We could add Mark Twain and of course Winston Churchill, and in our own time when programs such as Dragon’s Naturally Speaking can turn speech into text with 99% accuracy, using your voice rather than your fingers to write is possible for everyone.

I anticipate that many people reading this will say, “But I’m a writer, not a talker.” Are you sure there’s that much of a difference? If anybody bothered to do the research and search the history of great writers, I think they’d find that a very large percentage of great writers have also been, and continue to be, great talkers.

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