Your Best Writing Voice Is Already Inside You — Here’s How to Let it Out
Every comprehensive course on writing starts with a plan to find your writing voice.
That’s bad advice, especially if nothing on the list of choices fits.
You already have a voice. Your best friends know it. Your family has heard it. And deep inside, it’s always been right there with you.
A better question to ask is, “How do I set my voice free and share my best insights with the world?”
Go with the flow.
The other night I was in my bedroom listening to music. I was jamming out to the tunes I grew up with. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
My daughter swung the door open and implored, “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” I queried.
“That noise outside. It was so loud that the neighbors came out of their house to see if we were okay.”
“I didn’t hear a thing,” I shrugged. But I went outside to see if a tree had fallen onto the house or two cars had collided on the highway out front.
I waved my flashlight and saw… nothing.
I was in the flow. I was so committed to the moment, nothing — and I mean absolutely nothing — could have drawn me away.
Do you write with that kind of focus?
Here’s how to get it. Find an empty room and lock the door. Shut off your phone and internet. Tell your family not to disturb you unless they need an ambulance.
The sanctuary you create is a creative tunnel you travel through — collecting insights, marking them down, and evaluating them once you’re on the other side.
Who you are alone in the dark of the tunnel is who you really are.
Your work is never as good when you do it in fits and starts. Schedule flow time and write your drafts. Be yourself, with all your wisdom and all your warts.
Invite bad words.
Bad is pretty subjective. Your garbage might be someone else’s gold. If you limit yourself as you write, you’ll have nothing to filter later.
Let the bad words come. Don’t hold back the nonsense. Follow the tributaries that flow from the river of focus.
You can filter later, but not now.
Censoring is the curse of perfectionists. I’m not saying you shouldn’t edit. Just wait. Right now, you’re just emptying your brain on paper.
Don’t hold back.
What’s in the heaping pile of words when you get done? Your best insights. And your worst. Filling the gaps are the mediocre thoughts.
When you solve a problem, you consider every possibility at first. The answer may come in one piece, but often it’s a piece of one thing combined with another that saves the day.
There might be a lesson in your miscalculations, too.
Don’t edit too soon.
Authors hire editors to examine their manuscripts because they know a different set of eyes will see what they miss.
Editing while you write is like criticizing your child while she’s learning to walk. Sure, she looks silly. Yes, she’ll fall down — a lot. She’ll hold onto furniture, the wall, and anything that offers leverage.
Until her legs grow stronger, she’ll have to find her way through struggle.
What she needs at that moment is a cheerleader and a coach, not a critic.
After you get your thoughts down unfiltered, walk away. Come back after you’ve detached from what you wrote. That might take an hour, a day, or even a week.
Once you’ve made some space, approach editing like a prospector panning for gold.
Don’t edit out your personality, just the foolishness. Look for the golden thread and keep what has the strongest ties.
Your voice is ready when you are.
If you want to share your message with the world, consider it your calling.
Your purpose is found in what you’re willing to fight for. What’s wrong that you want to make right? What advice do you wish someone had given you? What final counsel would you give someone when you’re on your deathbed?
When you know those things, you’ve found your platform.
All the rest — social media, events, podcasts, and the like — are merely stages.
Someone needs and wants to hear your voice. Use it, polish it, and perfect it for them. Then you’ll be successful beyond measure.