When Wild Voice Speaks, Pay Attention

I’ve been throwing around the term “wild voice” for a long time, at least as long as I’ve been doing the Wild Women writing workshops (these date back to 1997). With my new book Wild Women, Wild Voices, due to be released April 7,  I thought I’d better explain what I mean when I say “wild voice.”

Magellan Penguin flaps its wings, Punta Arenas, ChileAs its name implies, wild voice is untamed and unbounded and holds the possibility of great beauty. It goes deep, like roots; it sings because it can. It is not domesticated or restrained. Wild voice can be dangerous; it can be outrageous. It is passionate, exuberant, and eager for life. It is turbulent and stormy, often arriving as unexpectedly as a summer squall. It can also appear as tranquil as an autumn breeze or a lazy river—but just try to capture either of these in a bottle and put them on a shelf.

Wild voice is what gives you the sentence or phrase that seems to come out of nowhere. It is what wants to be expressed. It tells you what you intuitively know and what matters most. Language erupts spontaneously with wild voice. When wild voice speaks, pay attention.

How do you know when you’re writing with your wild voice? When your writing surprises you. When you say, “I don’t know where that came from.” When what you read back to yourself resonates deep inside, maybe you even get “truth bumps” along the back of your neck or your arms. You know when you’re writing with wild voice when you know you’re telling the truth. When you’re excited by what you’re writing, when you’re having fun, when you’re not “trying.” When your ego has stepped aside and you’re writing freely and easily, intuitively. When the language you’re using is of your own making and the rhythm of your sentences is the beat of your own drummer. When your writing still feels honest and true  when you read it weeks, months, years later.

How do you access wild voice? That’s another topic for another blog. For now, let’s just take 15 minutes and write to a prompt and see what happens.

(This prompt is from “The Bone Road,” by Brandon R. Schrand, Shenandoah, Spring 2008):

On a night ruined with stars

After you’ve written, let me know if you find traces of wild voice in your piece.

Disoriented and lonely — a writer without a group

I had the strangest feeling of disorientation last night. As I sat at my computer answering emails suddenly I felt a little dizzy and I realized I didn’t know what day it was. I had the sense I was supposed to be somewhere, but I didn’t know where. Certainly it wasn’t there, at my desk, in my yoga clothes, emailing about lunch dates with my sisters.

Then I realized: it was Wednesday night and I was supposed to be with my Wednesday writing group. That was it!

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Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

May your 2015 be bounteous, prosperous, and peace-filled. May your work be fulfilling and rewarding. May the ideas spring forth like blessings and the words flow easily and build upon one another like steps to heaven… uh oh. I think I’ve gone too far.

The thing is, I want to wish you the very best in this New Year. Let us love one another and care for one another and be gentle and respectful. Let us be generous and giving and open and trusting. Let us celebrate one another. And have fun and laugh. A lot.


Wishing you a warm and wonderful New Year.

love, Judy