Finding Your Voice

Lamott encourages her students to have a favorite authors and writing styles. However, these favorites should not limit a writer to emulating that author or style. Lamott tells her students to be truthful in their writing, and not to be afraid of sharing themselves. A sober friend once told her, “When I was still drinking, I was a sedated monster. After I got sober, I was just a monster.” The more we find out about our own monsters, the more similarities we find with others. She says to write as if your parents are dead–to not worry about how others will react to your writing.

In other words, don’t be afraid to put yourself in your writing honestly. In “Four Philosophies of Composition,” Richard Fulkerson labels this writer-focused style of composition as “expressionism.”  “Expressivists value writing that is about personal subjects, and such journal-keeping is an absolute essential. Another keynote for expressivists is the desire to have writing contain an interesting, credible, honest, and personal voice.” (Fulkerson 345) Lamott urges writers to express themselves honestly, even soul-baringly so. Peter Elbow also writes to this effect of revealing the author’s self through his words: “When words carry the sound of a person–whether in fiction, poetry or an essay–they are alive. Without it they are dead.” (Elbow 120).

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