This is one of the first lessons I’ve learned when I started writing. Back when I was younger, I really admired writers like Sidney Sheldon and Jodi Picoult. I admired them so much I told myself that I’d be like them.
And so, I did just that. I tried making up plots which were way beyond my experiences. The result? Complicated situations and unfinished stories. Though some writers are actually good at thinking outside the box, I consider myself to be a person who can’t say anything about something unless I experience it in one way or another.
Last summer, I took a vacation and was able to look through my old things. The first stories I wrote were there, and I couldn’t help but cringe and laugh. On most parts, the timeline was too short and the pacing was too fast. The characters never seemed to develop. I was talking about a world I didn’t know all too well. That included gangsters (I don’t really know if this is a trend, but yeah, I did write about gangsters when I was thirteen), relationships and assassins. I noticed, as well, that I used big words. Which is weird, because I don’t usually do it now. Perhaps I learned that it isn’t about what you say, but how you say it.
That happened somewhere in June, and I was in the middle of writing ‘Chasing Summer’. I still have a lot to work on: bad (writing) habits to break, how to organize my life (let alone my room), and so on and so forth.
I badly wanted to improve that I burned myself out. In the end, I stopped writing altogether, only to return after a couple of years. This time, however, I started experimenting. The more I wrote, the more evident my life experiences within my stories became. They’re twisted and exaggerated at one point, but the foundation in my stories were something real, so I guess, I was able to describe it better.
During my long hiatus I was able to take my time observing. I earned more experiences, too. And I admit I am not as lost as I was before, because I finally found my ‘voice’. No, not the version 2.0 of Picoult, Ahern or Sheldon, but my own voice.
As someone who loves to write, this is what I have recently learned: it’s okay to take your time. It’s okay to take things slowly. Mistakes are allowed. Erasures can be done. Take time to find and improve your voice. Keep on writing.