Hearing Voices


“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. “–E.L. Doctorow

At the August meeting of the Kansas Writers Association, several members jokingly referred to their writing experience as “hearing voices.” Although schizophrenia is a serious mental illness, most writers have regular occurring bouts of voices in their heads.

Fellow KWA member B.D. Tharp talks about “the muse” calling her to write.  Other authors have the experience of their characters speaking in their ears as they sit at the computer. It can be overwhelming at times, so many thoughts. Imagine Noah, after several months in the ark, with a cacophony of animal intonation around him. Sounds kind of like a really bad Caribbean cruise.

The voices, if you listen carefully, will guide you to write their stories. They will tell you what they would or would not do and carry on conversations with other characters in your head. Sometimes it feels pretty crowded. The best thing to relieve these murmurings is to sit down and write about it. In the end, it is therapeutic to leave everything on the page, rather than jostling around inside your gray matter.

Don’t worry; they’ll be replaced with other thoughts and ideas. When the voices are too quiet or, God forbid, completely silent, then you have problems. That’s when you have to jumpstart your creativity.

Why not put them to work for you? You have the choice to use what they’re giving you or discard it. Try adding the ideas to your work-in-progress; see if they mesh. If not, it’s no problem to get rid of them and try something else. Whether you lead the voices, or they lead you…write it out!

Author: KWA

The mission of KWA is to inform, support, encourage and promote the writer. We have more than 100 members who write in all genres, in fiction and non-fiction, who publish traditionally and online. Let us help you hone your skills, polish your work, network with other writers, and put you on the path to publication.

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