We are writers, managers, designers, parents, builders of everything, but we are not truly expressing ourselves and speaking the truth, until we have found our inner voice: the tone, style, pitch, personality we use to express ourselves.
Our Voice is Our Essence
A reader and fellow writer asked me once how I found my voice, and I had no easy answer — I’m not even sure I can say I’ve fully found my voice yet. It’s a quest that doesn’t seem to end but instead is a constant return to the essence. I feel I’ve found something that close to the truth. I’ll share some of my thoughts, but keep in mind I don’t hold the answers firmly at all.
When I started to blog, I was then, as I am today, extremely passionate about self growth and personal development. I didn’t give a lot of thought to getting it right. I just wanted to get it going. I took inspired action. I just went head first into it and started blogging my ass off. Content just flowed out of me.
Beginning to Write
I can’t even tell you how horrible my first 6 months of writing was though. Grammatical errors were like a hail storm of bullets. An English teacher probably would have just shot me on sight.
But you know what? People loved what I wrote!
It was the good content that met the readers’ needs so they were a little forgiving. Umm, OK, they were A LOT forgiving.
I’m still learning, and I hope my learning helps yours.
Here Are the Tools that Helped Me Find My Voice:
1. Write a lot. This is almost all I need to say, as nothing else matters without the constant practice of writing a lot. Write blog posts and letters, letters to the editor and book reviews, short stories, novellas and manifestos. The sheer mass of your writing becomes the raw matter from which to shape your voice.
2. Learn to hear yourself. My writing voice is really the voice in my head. It’s not how I talk aloud, but how I talk to myself, in the noisy cavern of my skull. I listen to myself talk, inside, and that’s the voice I try to get down in writing.
3. Get the voice from your head to the virtual paper. That’s the trick. It’s not easy, but again, do it often. It’s a rewiring of the synapses, so that in your head-thoughts shoot down into your fingertips and come out as typing motions, as bits and pixels. Most people don’t do this enough to get good at it, just practice.
4. Find what feels true. You’ll write a lot, and most of it will be bullshit. You need the bullshit if you want to find the truth. Sort through the bullshit until you learn to recognize the truth, by feel, not by any logical criteria. The truth looks remarkably like bullshit.
5. Find clarity. Good writing, it’s been said often, is clear thinking. If your thinking is muddled, your writing will be. I’d recommend a self-taught course on logic, but really I’ve found it’s a matter of simplifying. Practice removing extraneous ideas and words until you have only what’s needed to express a simple thought.
6. Remove the noise. It’s a process of subtraction more than addition. Most people end up with too many words, because they never subtract. The noise gets in the way of your voice, so turn it down. Most people also have too much noise in their lives to hear their own thinking. Too much is going on around them, and online, and they have no time for solitude. You can’t hear your thoughts, your voice, without solitude. Remove the noise in your life as well.
7. Use your voice. You don’t embark on a quest for your voice just for the sake of beauty, truly used it!
I believe your voice only comes in time and it’s something that only grows as a person- consistently writing- experiences the world. Don’t be afraid of letting your audience enjoy that journey with you. It’s a bonding experience that you’ll rob them (and yourself) of if you don’t.
This is how I use my voice. How will you use yours?
About the Author
Punam Shah is not your traditional yogi; she’s a green juicing, red wine drinking, and French cheese-loving gal! A firm believer in balance- through meditation, yoga, running a household, and just being herself. She has a loving husband and a beautiful daughter and lives in Connecticut. She says, “Life is a wonderful opportunity. We can all become so much more than we imagine, and achieve so much more than we think.” She is the blogger behind Serenity and You. Follow her on Facebook, too.