I Haven’t Found My Voice Yet
Stop worrying about personal brand and start shipping real work
I’ve been writing fairly consistently on Medium for some time now. I’ve been developing my personal brand and establishing myself online for an even longer time.
Yet to this day, I still haven’t found my voice.
I’m not referring to my actual voice of course, but rather an individual perspective for writing from which everything flows. The same phenomenon that plenty of other accomplished writers reference frequently in outstanding posts like these:
- Where My Writing Voice Comes From by John Gorman
- How One Year of Daily Blogging Changed My Life by Jonas Ellison
- I Was Never Trained To Be A Writer… by Tom Kuegler
Let’s take a step back and put things in perspective.
I’m currently an undergraduate student at a large public university. Despite a passion for technology and programming, I’ve always felt a pull towards writing.
I was first inspired to start publishing my work upon reading The War of Art and learning about the benefits of shipping. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on writing as a means for sharing, expressing, and further developing insights.
“Words are the voice of the heart” — Confucius
However, I feel like I’ve hit a plateau with my writing. This isn’t due to ability, as I feel like I still continue to improve with each post. It’s rather a struggle with learning to naturally express my views from a genuine place.
Upon reflection, I identified the problem and realized that I needed to alter my mindset in order to enjoy and improve my writing.
Like many students in a competitive field for internships and full-time positions, I’ve felt the need to go above and beyond in order to stand out. One way I was encouraged to do this was to establish a personal brand.
What does this mean exactly? It means putting yourself out there in order to provide value for others. When done right, this can help you establish credibility to impress employers, make meaningful professional connections, and help your work reach a larger audience. This has worked effectively for me, as I’ve been lucky enough to secure two high-profile internships during my time at school.
However, there is a caveat.
Due to the emphasis I’ve put on personal brand, it’s become increasingly difficult to write from a place that feels authentic to me. I’ve realized that I often present my views in a way that would be appealing to employers and other professionals, not in a way that truly reflects my perspective.
This has caused my writing to fall off to the point where it felt like a chore for awhile. It’s caused me to become hesitant to publish instead of freely shipping my work.
In short, I’ve sacrificed authenticity in order to appear a certain way to my audience.
Today, that wasn’t the case. This is the most honest and open post that I’ve published in some time and it was by far the easiest to write.
I published this piece because I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with worrying how their writing will be perceived by others. I know this resistance can be fought off. There are plenty of super talented and accomplished people out there with great reach that present a unique, authentic voice consistently on all different platforms.
However, for most people, this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes deliberate practice and time to develop the proper mindset.
I’m no outlier. I haven’t figured it out yet.
But I will. I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to write from a more unfiltered and honest perspective from now on. Eventually, I’m confident that the resistance will subside.
By focusing on myself and not the person that others want me to be, I’ll be able to reach more people, write more engaging stories, produce more content, and as a corollary, build my personal brand more than I ever could have before.
Writing is, in it’s simplest form, a way to communicate. It’s a medium for sharing what’s going on in your head.
We all have filters, biases, and insecurities in place subconsciously. None of us are perfect, but by understanding these effects, by embracing ourself and our imperfections, by presenting ourself and our ideas as they are, we can all be a little happier, both as individuals and writers alike.
I wish I had a more concrete way to bring this to a close, but I don’t.
I look forward to the day when I discover my unique writing voice. When I’m able to hit the publish button without doubting the work or my ability. When I’m able to express my views for what they are, while helping others do the same.
I’m not there yet, but one day I will be.
I hope you’ll be there to see it.