Have you found your voice yet?
If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve no doubt seen the 18-bajillion posts and podcasts telling you that you need to find it.
There’s so much finding your voice noise out there that it gets confusing and you start to believe that, next to oxygen, finding the right voice is the singular most vital key to your existence.
If you let it all get to you it can become a point of stress and distraction. You start thinking…
- Am I writing in the right voice?
- What should my voice be?
- Which other successful blogger should I model my voice after?
Maybe the quest for your voice has kept you from moving forward. I mean, after all, based on all the content available online, why would you pursue A, B, or C project before you find your voice?
But understanding what your writing voice really is and learning how to develop it doesn’t have to be frustrating or stressful.
Avoidance Isn’t an Option
As an emerging blogger, you can’t avoid this issue. It literally rains finding your voice content in the blogosphere. I think I feel a drizzle right now.
Since you have to deal with it, you have a few options.
1: You can read everything that’s out there, become confused and distracted, and pull your hair out in clumps.
(I don’t recommend this option)
2: You can become fed up with the whole buzzword culture and cynically dismiss the whole concept as a bunch of echo-chamber filler.
3: You can be wise enough to realize that somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
Let me tell you a quick story about which one of those three options I picked.
Why Finding Your Voice Made Me Bristle
I chose option 2: Becoming a cynic.
I did so mainly because the vast majority of the finding your voice content you see online completely missed the mark with me.
They talk about finding your voice like it’s a lost pen that you find in the seat cushion of your car. “Hey, look! There’s my voice!”
Sometimes in comments, you’ll see it used as an excuse. “I’d love to do that… but I’m still trying to find my voice.”
Oh really? Where did you see it last? In the kitchen? Well, let’s start there and backtrack.
Others misinterpret finding their voice as the question, “Whose writing style should I mimic?”
After reading so much of this off-centered “find your voice” stuff, I made a comment in a guest post I wrote for Write to Done that got a lot of attention.
Most readers agreed and found the comment amusing. Their encouragement convinced me I was right to scoff at the voice crowd. Until…
Enter Jeff Goins, Writer
If you’re not already familiar with Jeff or his blog Jeff Goins Writer, you really should be. Especially if you aspire to be successful online.
Not long after my public dissing of the whole voice-finding bandwagon, I came across some stellar content from Jeff that took me down a peg and changed my whole view of the subject.
His post, 10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice is a great exercise to begin identifying your voice. And guess what? It’s all about ways to determine who you really are.
It’s the most honest, simple, and articulate explanation of how to find your authentic writing voice I’ve seen – and for that reason, it now lives forever in my Evernote.
I’m not going to summarize the whole exercise here, because Jeff explains it perfectly and you really should read it in his words on his site.
Shortly after reading and re-reading Jeff’s post, I found a video interview Jeff did a while back called How I Built an Audience of 100,000 Blog Readers. In the video, Jeff again does a great job explaining the topic (and several other things) thoroughly.
Watch the clip below. It’s just under 3 minutes. Then you can go watch the full interview. It’s worth watching, too!
Finally. A take on finding your voice that I can live with.
To summarize Jeff’s advice from the post and the video…
Your writing voice comes from…
- who you really are.
- your worldview.
- your past experiences.
- the things that interest you.
In other words, your voice is a matter of presenting your authentic self to your readers.
I’m not saying that’s easy to nail down by any means. In fact, it’s really tough for some of us.
Proceed – But Proceed With Caution
No one can say that I’m not willing to eat a little crow on occasion – and I’ve eaten some today courtesy of Jeff. It wasn’t bad. Kind of like chicken.
While Jeff’s explanation rings true with me and makes sense, I still want to wave a little yellow caution flag at you just a bit.
Don’t fall into the trap of following the herd when it comes to these popular concepts and buzzwords. I still feel that most people misunderstand what “finding your voice” means.
Don’t be taken in (and taken down) by all the hype around this whole “finding your voice” thing. Your voice won’t spring forth from you if you bear down and push hard like you’re trying to pop your ears in a plane. It doesn’t work that way.
Instead, take Jeff’s advice and approach it as a discovery process. Let your own personal style emerge as you become more familiar and more comfortable with who you are as a writer and a communicator.
You Type Now!
Have you struggled with this “voice” issue? How did you get around it? What other buzzwords drive you nuts? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
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