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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Writers Hear Voices in Their Heads

Did you ever hear your mother’s voice in your head? I’ll bet you can repeat some of her conversations verbatim. In certain situations, you know exactly what she would say. Amy Tan comes immediately to mind when thinking about books inspired by the ongoing internal dialogue between mother and child. These voices are not restricted to parental figures. Any important figure in your life may show up and engage you in an internal dialogue.

No doubt you have other voices that come to speak to you, whether invited or not. Usually, these voices are of people who have a strong emotional impact on you. Sitting at my writing desk, I find my thoughts interrupted occasionally by Brother Tackett, a “Hell’s fire and brimstone” preacher from childhood. When he speaks, I listen. Brother Tackett has a distinct Southern accent and expresses a wonderfully antiquated view of the world that is working well in more than one of my fiction projects.

When they speak, you care what they say, particularly when they are saying things you don’t want to hear or believe. Instead of treating these voices as intrusions or impediments to your writing, begin to listen to these voices and write down what they have to say. Some of your richest material as a writer hides within those emotionally charged internal dialogues. Pay attention to these voices and profit as a writer.

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