When I was asked to write this blog post my first thought was, blogs are not my thing. So, what will I say?
They suggested I share with you, dear reader, some advice for new writers which feels ironic because in some ways, I am new here too. Maybe like me, you are not new to writing, you have been writing your whole life. I wrote a book when I was six, I am still very proud of my illustrations and storyline. We are technically not new writers, are we? We are new to this particular world of writing, a world where your words will be consumed by others and ultimately, will need to mean something.
So, after thinking long and hard…that is what I want to write to you about. Ensuring your words mean something.
What was your first thought? The idea of your words meaning something, did you think about your audience first? Maybe your agent or potential publishers?
Finding the words for me has been rooted in ensuring I am saying exactly what it is I need to say, the things that left unsaid would continue to call to me. I write for the catharsis. If you are a new writer and have a tumultuous relationship with your words, potentially because you fear not having the right ones, consider what your experience could be if you wrote what moved you most. What have you witnessed or seen in life that you deeply want to speak on? That place is where you will find your words.
Maybe you always had your words. Potentially you are not in search of the words, you may be wondering how to organize them. If so, finding your unique voice may be the next step. I wrote privately for years, only sharing via articles I wrote. It was not until Jade Is a Twisted Green that I shared a major body of work with a large audience. I was terrified but at peace with my decision because I used every opportunity I had for years to become clear on HOW I wanted to say WHAT I had to say. This is the process for finding our voice — I was also using micro audiences and receiving real time feedback on something like an Instagram caption, or during undergrad when I read poetry at open mic’s. People would respond with what resonated, I could tell if I clearly communicated my ideas, and this helped. Also, it allowed me to practice the vulnerable act of crafting words for others to form an opinion and see what landed for me. I learned how I wanted to share and where to add details and descriptions. I also learned what I was comfortable sharing.
Once you are published, things move quickly, other people’s voices will question yours, and it will be easy to trust theirs more than your own because they are experts. So this is why you MUST, before the big opportunity knocks on your door, get super clear about exactly what it is you want to say and how you want it said. This will be your north star and ultimately what makes your work both something you can stand behind and words worth reading.
I wish you the best of luck.
Tanya Turton 💚
Tanya Turton is a storyteller, educator, and mental health advocate. She fell in love with storytelling when she began to feel displaced in her own world and found creative writing. Jade Is a Twisted Green is her debut novel. Hailing from Jamaica, Tanya was raised and lives in Toronto. Learn more here.