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?