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It's not an accent. It's just another voice.
Much like accents in speech, every artist has a unique way of expressing themselves. Understanding as much gets you that much closer to YOUR unique creative voice.
This is part of my “Art of Noticing” series, in which I learn, find, or discover the things around me that usually go unnoticed and turn them into an endless source of creative inspiration.
Today, I realized that what we normally call an “accent” is just a difference in pronunciation from an established norm. It got me thinking about the larger issue of individuality of voice.
When I was in Germany, a native German told me I had “almost no accent.” I didn’t understand. Doesn’t everyone speaking a language other than their native one have an accent? But thinking about this recently, something hit me: Pronouncing words with all of the “official” emphasis and inflection is all it takes to eliminate any difference. An accent is nothing more, and nothing less, than deviation from a norm.
Accents are one way that people demonstrate their backgrounds, journeys, and unique experiences. In the same way, every artist, writer, and creator has a “creative accent”: a way and style of expressing that's uniquely theirs. We embrace the richness of accents, right? So why not do the same with ourselves when we make art, instead of trying to be just like everyone else … and embrace our distinct creative voice?
I don’t write like anyone else, but that’s a good thing. My creative accent is what sets me apart, making my work unique in a sea of other creations. The same is true of all of us — all of our varied “accents.”
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Here's how this "noticing" can benefit my stories and art:
Recognizing My Own Creative Voice
Yeah. I write like me and nobody else. At first, like with language, I tried to make my writing “just right.” That meant following not only the rules, but the examples set forth by other writers I admired.
But that was a trap. Really, I should just be me.
Much like learning to hear the subtle pronunciation differences that characterize an accent, it's important to recognize the unique traits that are the hallmarks of our unique expressions. They are, in an increasingly overstimulated world, the only real way to stand out.
Creating Diverse Worlds and Characters
By acknowledging and incorporating diverse “cultural accents” from different cultures or backgrounds, I can find new ways to enrich my stories. That goes for literal accents, too, because not everyone talks just like I do.
Learning to hear and accept differences of all sorts as correct in their own way (rather than wrong because they don’t conform) adds depth to character dialogues. It’s just one more way that diversifying influences, characters, and storylines can make art more globally resonant … and, at the same time, keep us out of our default creative ruts.
In a world that often pushes for conformity, it feels stupidly important to me truly dig deep into — and fully express — our unique creative voices. And just as an accent is a sign of a person’s individual journey and background, all of our distinctive styles in art and storytelling are testament to our journeys, too.
Just like the wide tapestry of accents in our physical world, let's also champion the diverse, unique, and invaluable “creative accents” in the world of art. It's those same nuances that make creations deeply personal, relatable, and memorable. And isn’t that what art and creativity is supposed to do in the first place?
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