“This book, the one I have found alternately difficult and exhilarating to write, is, in fact, writing itself. It reminds me that while I may hope to have a voice, my real business is to give voice, to allow what is trying to be written to write through me.”
Julia Cameron, The Right to Write
When we are under the weather physically or facing emotional stress, we sometimes lose our voice. And in the same way, sometimes, for one reason or another, we may find that we’ve lost our writing voice. When this happens, as Julia puts it so well, we haven’t really “lost” this voice, we’ve just lost our ability to use it: “The Inner Voice is still there, waiting to be rediscovered and reconnected to.”
If you feel that you’ve misplaced your voice somehow or lost it in your writing, Julia offers a simple, but powerful exercise for rediscovering it. She suggests that you “time travel” back through your own emotional time line — your personal narrative — and stop at a moment that was emotionally charged for you. Then she suggests that you scoop up this “cup” of time and write about it. As Julia describes it so well: “When we write about something we care about, something n which we have an emotional stake, our writing automatically acquires ‘voice.’ Of course it does. We are speaking of emotional truth.”
Here are a few examples of “cups” of time Julia suggests you might dip into and write about : “My family had a secret;” “My favorite relative;” “My greatest loss;” “My closest friend;” “My worst betrayal;” “My happiest memory.”
When you’re done, you might find that what you’ve written ranges from a few pages to ten or so. In addition to helping you reconnect with your voice, what you come up with may be the kernel for a longer piece — something that can stand on its own.
A final thought: Julia notes that the term “cup” is derived from a gold-mining tool called a “cupel,” which is used to separate gold ore from dross. I love this idea of dipping a cup into the well of remembrance and finding not just your voice, but some nugget of golden thought. Write on!