Find Your Voice (Even If It Doesn’t Find An Audience)

Ever since my post on figuring out who you are writing for, I’ve found myself obsessing on how you actually go about writing. I’ve talked about the act of writing, I’ve talked about audience, but I haven’t really touched on the one thing I hold above all others: finding your voice.

My road to writing has was an unexpected one. I never counted myself as creative and never really gave myself permission to even attempt to create. Hell, I still struggle with the idea that writing about things like creativity is actually creative, but I digress… I decided that I wanted to learn how to set up a blog and perhaps use it to talk about social media1 and here I am three years later, crazy enough to call myself a writer. When I really think back to the beginning of this site and my recent decision to focus, I can see that to those initial efforts were early attempts to figure out how to make the words on the screen sound like me2.

I didn’t start with a topic, I really had no idea what I was doing and I don’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. It showed me that it doesn’t hurt to a little bit lost in order to find out what you really want to say. There’s a great Merlin quote (I know, I know, I’m obsessed with the guy…) that I constantly find myself referring to:

It’s the writing that tells me what to write about. – Merlin Mann

This wasn’t always true for me. Go back to the beginnings of this blog and you will see a string of disconnected crap. It was essentially a scratch pad, a place for me to publish anything, to anyone, in public3. I had no idea why I was doing it or what I was hoping to achieve4, but over time the writing began to show me the way. Sure I wanted an audience; sure I wanted feedback. But before I ever came close to figuring out what I wanted to say, I needed to figure out how I was going to say it.

Eventually, you are going to want to write for them. You are going to want to figure out who it is you’re trying to talk with and focus your efforts, but it won’t matter much unless you take the time to find your voice. If you’re just getting started, there is only one thing you need to do… Write. And keep writing until the words on the page sound ever so slightly more like the thoughts in your head. Don’t obsess over who you are writing for at the onset… there’s plenty of time to do that along the way. Just keep at it and the writing really will tell you what to write.

So what came first for you? Did you start with your audience or did you figure out how you write before you ever attempted to seek them out?

  1. A completely original idea…  

  2. Which, for the record, is still a work in progress.  

  3. Brilliant idea on my part…  

  4. Probably not the best idea on either count…  

7 Responses to Find Your Voice (Even If It Doesn’t Find An Audience)

  1. It’s all about me; always has been and always will be. You should know that about me by now. I don’t care what my community wants………….:).

    I started writing about ‘stuff’ just because I thought that was what you were supposed to do if you go to other people’s sites and comment. Eventually I started dragging my blog with me when I would comment and people started to show up. When I started out as the Invisible Blogger, I truly expected to be invisible.

    Janet Callaway at wrote about Andy Rooney and how he just talked about things that were on his mind and how these stories seem to resonate with his audience. I think that is my style for now, just about about stuff that I see and I’m guessing others are experiencing as well. It seems to be working so far; if it gets to the point everybody is leaving (and some already have but others have replaced them) then I might give it more thought to be something different. I just know the one thing I can do really well is be myself and as soon as I try to get away from that it usually doesn’t work so well. 

    That’s my story for today and I’m sticking with it…….

    • That we all know by now :) You couldn’t care less about us.

      There’s something to the aiming to be invisible in order to get discovered. Was listening to an interview with Leo Baubbotta (the zen habits guy) where he was talking about that approach and how successful it’s been for him. 

      People are always going to leave, but screw them, we werent talking to them anyway :)

      You are damn good at being you, so good plan.

  2. Interesting “chicken or egg” take on blogging. For me, the question is easily answered as writing has always been a fundamental part of what I do as a public relations professional. When I began my blog ( a few years ago, my goal was the same as it is now – to primarily opine about current issues from an experienced public relations perspective. Conversely, I advise my clients to have a strategy and goals when considering tactics like blogging. Similar to the previous commenter, not me. I’m opinionated, I enjoy writing, and with any luck, I make people think.  Good post!

    • Funny, I actually had the chicken, egg bit in there and ended up taking it out int he final edit. Making people think is the name of the game (or at least it’s that goal in the back of my head), there are far worse things to aim for and few better. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. My blogs are nothing but a road map of evolution or should I say the evolution of my writing and my audience. I have figured both sides out simultaneously or so it seems to me.

    I think that I spent several months blogging without having a clue about stats and with little idea that anyone who I hadn’t invited to read it was out there.

    • Probably a good way to go about it. I can’t help but look at my stats to see how I’m doing. Luckily, I’m stubborn enough to keep course even when things are slow going. Better to do what you want to do than what’s popular, don’t you think.

      • When I first started blogging it was much easier to ignore the stats. There weren’t nearly as many blogs as there are now and almost no one was blogging to make money.

Leave a reply