You want to say something but you don’t feel like you have anything new to say.
At least that’s how I felt when I started blogging for my business, years ago. I really wanted to contribute. I wanted to say important things and say them in a smart, original way. Only, I didn’t feel like I had anything particularly new to say. I shared the opinions of other bloggers and writers I read, but they all seemed to have unique, earned opinions AND their own style in which to express them. Substance and flair. Shoot. Why should I even bother? When so many people are already writing and teaching online, why should you even bother?
You should bother, dear reader, because you have the drive to speak. You gain nothing—we gain nothing—when people who are compelled to speak stay mute. We don’t need noise, but we do need caring people to speak up about the things they care about.
If you want to be heard and make a difference, you will need to express your own point of view in your own way. We talk about “finding your voice” because it’s something you have to discover. Everyone whose work or writing you admire has developed their voice by using some combination of the tactics below. Pick a few and find your voice.
How to Find Your Voice
1 | Imitate who you admire.
Not publicly. That is called stealing and is kinda pathetic.
I mean privately, just for yourself. If you love Bruno Mars, try to sing like Bruno. Dance like Bruno. Do Bruno better than Bruno. See what parts of Bruno feel true to you. See what technique you can borrow from him. See what channeling Bruno brings up in your heart. Wear Bruno like a mask, and then see what’s worth keeping after you take the mask off.
Then do it again with someone else. Try on Macklemore. Try on Johnny Cash. Try on Damien Rice. The process of trying on different styles, techniques, and voices can help you find your own.
It’s a bit like learning to paint by copying a Van Gogh. You don’t sign your name to Starry Night, claim it as an original, and sell it on Etsy. But you do paint Starry Night in your basement, testing out colors and brush strokes and subject matter, so your own genius can grow.
2 | Have conversations.
Whatever it is you care about, whatever kind of work you want to be doing, find people who will talk about it with you.
When you’re developing your ideas, it’s wonderful to do so with the help of a sounding board. Listen to other points of view. Have your opinions challenged. Get your opinions validated. This lets you get out of your head and see how your ideas hold up when they get up and walk around a little bit.
3 | Get interviewed.
It doesn’t matter who interviews you. It can be a friend or your spouse. But you should record it. You need a performance element to elevate this from a casual conversation and give it some stakes.
Having to think and speak on your feet will make you take a position and articulate it well. You’ll not just learn what you want to say, but how you enjoy saying it and connecting with others. Do you tell personal stories? Weave in jokes? Use metaphors? Back up what you say with statistics?
You may be amazed at the smart stuff that comes out of your mouth when you're put on the spot and the camera or audio is rolling.
4 | Play devil’s advocate with your heroes.
It’s great to admire other people’s work, but make sure to actively question it.
I dunno, Oprah, is that the way to live my best life?
Never assume that the established voices have everything figured out. They may know a lot, but you will have life experiences that allow you to see things from a perspective that they can’t. Challenge. Question. Look for other angles. Try what they suggest and find solutions for the parts that don’t work for you.
5 | Experiment. (Also known as doing the work.)
There is just no substitute for doing the work. And by “the work,” I mean the practice of hands-on doing the thing you want to develop mastery in.
If you want to write brilliant songs, start writing mediocre songs.
If you want to health coach, start coaching people before you have a signature approach.
If you want to have a successful blog, start blogging before you find your voice.
Solve the problems, help the people, or make the thing. You’ll establish your voice along the way.
Are you struggling to find your voice? What’s one thing you’re going to do to find it?