You Can’t Find Your Voice If You Don’t Speak

Day 48

Since I’ve embarked on this 100 Naked Words challenge, I’ve learned something important: You can’t find your voice if you don’t speak. If this sounds overly simplistic, it is. There is nothing hard logistically or practically about what I just said. So my question to those of you not meeting your writing goals, why aren’t you speaking?

If you’re anything like me, I know exactly why — you’re terrified. Every time you stare at a blank computer screen you are scared of your own voice. What will people think? What if I sound stupid? What if I don’t sound coherent enough or witty enough or I make a huge typo?! You wonder if your voice can find the perfect balance between fancy words and linguistic simplicity that makes readers go, “OOOOOOHHHHHHH.” (Maybe it’s just me.) Then you start doubting yourself. You tell yourself you’ll never sound as cool and sophisticated as 99% of people you read on Medium — shoot 99% of things you’ve ever read. You tell yourself you suck and that you can’t do it. You tell yourself that your voice is muddled and strange.

But the truth is everyone feels like that — they have to. It’s a part of the process. If you’re serious about working on your craft, the only way to find your voice is to keep yelling. It might sound unpolished or awkward but you need to understand how your vocal chords sound before you can control them.

Think of writing as the Find My Phone app. Luckily I have the app on my iPad (hard to lose) so I can look for my iPhone (very easy to lose). Every authentic word you write is another “ping” sound. The “pings” will have you looking in all directions. But the more you write, the more you focus on where the sound is coming from and the closer you get to your voice (and the louder the pings get). But if you stop writing, the pings get softer and you find yourself searching frantically again. Or worse, you stop searching altogether.

So think about it. What’s worse? Being in the dark and looking for your phone or risking never finding it at all. The difference with your voice is you only get one so speak up and find it.

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