The Reason to Find Your Voice Is So You Can USE It

For the last four years, the place all my work has circled around has been this thing, this force, this process called “finding your voice.” It started here, really, when this Writing Is My Drink blog came into being in 2010. I’d write a post about my lifelong struggle in the war between Expression Vs. Pleasing Others and wouldn’t know how to categorize it and then created the category “Theo Finding Her Voice,” and the stories there later evolved into  the book Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (And a Guide To How You Can Too). Finding one’s voice has also become the epicenter my teaching radiates around–in my memoir classes and now in the Writing Is My Drink webinar.

mikesOne key to helping writers find their voices, I’ve found, is locating the conversations they long to be a part of and the important topics they yearn to write about. For numerous reasons among which self-doubt and fear of conflict rank high, many of us are staying out of the conversations we want and need to be in and away from the topics that magnetize us. One of my students who often experiences block noted in a recent class discussion that when she wrote a blog post about a topic that made her very angry, she had no problem staying on task and her reader response was enormous.

“So what else are you pissed off about?” I asked her and I ask myself because our anger and our sorrow and our indignation point us to our important work, the topics through which we will find our vision and voice. When we surrender to these stories fully, we often find our voices rising off the page with clarity.

But even if we’ve done the work to “find our voices,” we still might not USE them.We might not use them because we are afraid. I am afraid. I am afraid of conflict, of being wrong, of rocking the boat, of offending, of losing myself along the way, of fighting losing battles. But what is the point–I ask myself–of all the education I’ve been given and that I’ve struggled for as a writer and a person if I do not use that education to write about important struggles beyond my own fears and to speak up in the face of injustice? What’s the point of finding my voice if I do not use it? I continue to ask myself this, to challenge myself with the charge of really using my voice.

I teach my students that after they’ve found their important topics to locate the flaw they fear will keep them out of the conversations they need to be a part of. Often the flaw will keep us out but if we can locate it and name it, our flaw can also be our way IN. The flaw I feared would keep me out of important conversations about writing, for example, was my self-doubt. Yet after I embraced my self-doubt, it became my way of connecting with readers and students. By sharing my own stories of delay, procrastination, fear, and doubt, I’ve been able to help writers to find their voices. Why? So they can use them.

My next Writing Is My Drink webinar starts September 4th. Details and registration here.







About Theo Pauline Nestor

Author of Writing Is My Drink (Simon & Schuster) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. Learn more about my courses, editing, and coaching at
This entry was posted in More Stuff for Writers, Theo Finding Her Voice, Webinars. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Reason to Find Your Voice Is So You Can USE It

  1. Lovely and true. Finding one’s voice is only one step in a longer journey. I recently tapped into the power of sorrow while writing an essay about the struggle I feel between telling the whole truth (flaws and all) or keeping things just a little more superficial in hopes of blending in better. Finding my voice in that piece had value for me. But, having the courage to USE my voice by submitting the essay for wider viewing ( was even more valuable. Thanks for the reminder that our voices, once found, are meant to be used and that our flaws can be an asset.

    • Theo Nestor says:

      Yes, it’s when we put our work out there, that the real excitement begins. Congrats, on the Brain, Child publication. Brain, Child was one of the first magazines to publish my work so I’ll always have a soft spot for them.

  2. poppynoel says:

    Regarding delay, self-doubt, procrastination — there were so many bits in your chapter “Words, Fail Me Not” that resonated with me. Especially the notion that once you start writing, you “feel like you’re giving up free will.” Yes! What a relief. You mirrored and named my fears for me. Thank you so much.

    Jennie Noel

    • Theo Nestor says:

      Thanks, Jennie! I’ve gotten lots of great feedback on the book but you’re the first to mention liking something from that chapter about my demons. So glad you found it of help! Theo

  3. Theo’s Writing is My Drink Webinar on Finding Your Voice is an amazing class/experience. I have taken Theo’s certificate course and other writing courses, and this one gets straight to the heart of the matter in ways I haven’t experienced before. It is so illuminating. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in memoir.

  4. I highly recommend Theo’s “Finding Your Voice” webinar. I’ve taken her certificate course and many other writing seminars and this one goes straight to the heart of the matter. If you are thinking of writing memoir or writing it, take this course. It helped me find my entry to my story and what my story is truly about. Thank you, Theo!

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