Okay, I can admit that I am not much of a writer yet. I have been at this for, well since I was quite young. I remember having a notebook when I was in third grade and writing what I know know is fan fiction. I do not have those pieces any longer but I have some of my work from high school.
I pulled some of those pieces out this fall, and read them with mixed feelings. Some of it was humor, some of it was amusement and some was a slight tinge of horror. Seventeen years ago my writer’s voice was atrocious. It was the voice of a timid young adult with very little experience in life. My grammar was appalling too as I was still learning the ebb and flow of sentences.
However, I had stories to tell. They were unformed and quite simplistic, but they were there. They were cliche and Mary Sue’s but I had the beginnings of the foundation that I have built upon. For a while, I ignored those urges to write. I did not have the support of family and friends. I did not have enough confidence in myself. I let those skills lie fallow and pursued other goals.
What happened in those years allowed me to find something that is unique to each and every writer. It is the voice. Ever story teller tells their tale in a different manner, in a different way. No two are alike no matter how another tries to emulate another. It creeps through how the story is told, how the events unfold, how the characters react.
It goes hand in hand with the skills that a writer needs to learn in order to tell their tale in a functional manner. The voice is cadence, meter, and details, while skill is precision, structure, and foundation. Neither will do without the other.
It cannot be completely instinctual, although that is where most of the writer’s voice will come from. It needs skills to hone that natural talent into a usable gift.