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🎙 The Science of Voice

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
1 min read

Screw finding 30 ideas, I'll write ONE idea in 30 different ways. Sounds whacky... but there's a reason. Ideas & voice are separate writing skills. If you stop wrestling original ideas, you can learn to write better, faster... Blasphemy! Isn't "originality" the point? Isn't a cover band a pale imitation? No. For God's sake, the Beatles started out as a cover band playing strip clubs in Germany.

There is value in imitation. A little known paradox on creativity is that "covers" are the best way to discover your inner voice.

How can writers "practice" outside of essays?

"Practice"... it's a foreign word for writers, but athletes have binders full of drills. Think of how soccer players isolate one thing at a time. Dribbling. Passing. Shooting. Defense. Cardio. Sprinting. Corner kicks. But writers? Get on the field, you'll figure it out! Essays are like "scrimmages." Full-on simulations. Is this how we get better? Is this how we undo bad habits?

For the next 30 days, I'll be doing impressions of writers to practice voice.

Deconstructing voice

Think of voice as the fingerprint of a writer. It's singular. It's identity. It's personality on the page. You can read a 50-word passage and instantly know, "Hunter S. Thompson was here," regardless of the subject. But where does voice come from? Our soul? Our belly button? The genie?

  • What if there was a science to voice?
  • What if there were observable patterns in word choice, rhythm, and tone?
  • What if you had to sing from 1,000 voices to discover your own?

Here’s a running list of my imitations:

Hunter S. Thompson


Impressions

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☀️ David Whyte

Gravityis a word that all dreamers must be acquainted with. Let us ponder these two words: "gravity" and "dreams;" for they share the same ethereal quality, yet they are always in tension with one other. The dreamer casts their focus beyond the clouds, while gravity keeps everything on the ground.

🧿 Hunter S. Thompson

The epiphany of the “new year” hit me, as usual, three hours late. I’m always awake at midnight, but never conscious— I get caught up in written streams of glowing gibberish. The new year is a slow-moving tidal wave, and no one is spared as it rampages from time