Last week, I wrote a blog post that was almost 2,000 words long. That’s not that exceptional. What’s surprising is that I sat down and wrote the entire piece in about 90 minutes.
The fact of the matter is, I spent a ton of time on that post. Reading (and re-reading) material about the subject, thinking about it, thinking about my approach and then thinking about the key points I wanted to cover.
I’m not the quickest thinker in the world. It means I’m not the greatest conversationalist in the world, nor am I prone to amaze you in a casual conversation. And please, I’m not fishing for compliments or having a fit of false modesty. I’m not above being egotistical here but even I know my personal limits.
Luckily this piece isn’t going to be 2,000 words, though. The advice I have today is pretty simple:
[green_box]Finding your writing voice isn’t some existential journey. For me, it was about writing. A lot. All of the time. For years. Until I was tired enough where the only way I could write was the way I write.[/green_box]
It’s easily panned advice, akin to “act naturally.”
But the process of making that leap was actually fairly important for me because it meant I spent a lot less time trying to translate what I was thinking to what I was writing. If you give me a topic that I know well, or can research well enough, and ask me to write something about it, I can do it in fairly quick time. It’s not automatic but the process is smoother. If I know what I want to write, I sit down and do it in a sitting. Usually less than an hour or two.
That’s not to say that if your natural style is littered with typos and grammar errors, you should be content with that. I’ve tried hard to eliminate spelling and grammar issues, though I have my own personal challenges. That’s also not to say that your writing style can’t improve (albeit, slowly, especially in the beginning). The important part was stripping my writing down to its foundations, finding what’s working for me and what wasn’t and starting to make incremental improvements on my style and mechanics from there.
The problem, at least for me, was that it took me basically taking everything I learned in formal writing for business and killing it word by word. And for people who have spent their entire career writing in a specific way to a specific audience, that becomes the barrier to you finding your own voice.
If there is a shortcut, I wish you would have told me that five years ago. I don’t think there is though. You wrote your way into those habits, you’re going to have to write yourself out of them.