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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

Blogging Therapy: Finding your voice

I’m so glad no one has asked (yet) what you do when you lose a post, because I don’t have a good answer (yet).

Let’s just say — for now — that this is the second time I’m writing number thirteen in our weekly series about taking the scary out of blogging, so I can only hope that it comes out better this time.

And as always, it doesn’t matter if you’re a rockstar blogger or don’t have any plans to get started, because it’s not really about the blogging. It’s about stuckified life patterns, and ways to think about them.

You can always catch up on the series if you like (no obligation, though!):
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Part 6. But I’m not an EXPERT!
Part 7. Don’t make me be vulnerable!
Part 8. I just don’t have the time!
Part 9. What if someone READS what I wrote?
Part 10. But I’ll never be popular!
Part 11. De-shouldifying.
Part 12. A bunch of questions.

Finding your voice.

When you’re not even sure what you’re saying, why you’re saying it or who you’re saying it to.

This seems to be one of the biggest barriers to blogging, if my inbox and the wonderful women in the Screw Therapy Start Blogging course are representative of anything.

It’s a mysterious thing, the blogging voice.

People want to know how I found mine, what if they never find theirs, do they need to find one and what if no one likes it!

And that’s just the beginning.

I could launch into a whole series of amusing rants on this topic (more or less), but let’s just try and keep it to a few useful tips and concepts this time. Oh, and a reminder. I’m totally starting with the reminder.

This is normal.

Just about everyone starting a blog worries about the voice thing.

Because blogging is weird that way. It’s new. It’s uncomfortable. You haven’t really gotten your bearings yet.

Plus there’s all this symbolic weight to it. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re admitting that yeah, you’re a creative person who can string words together. You’re experimenting with something new, and this adventure is being documented, and ohmygod other people could see it.

So I just want to remind you that you’re allowed to be terrified, nervous, anxious and whatever else it is you’re feeling.

Natural, normal and not the end of the world. These are questions that lots of us ask, and keep asking.

Okay, I’m done reminding. Big crazy internet hug to you. On to the Things To Consider.

Have you read my archives?

Here’s an expert tip. Go to any blog you love. Mine. Naomi‘s. Jenny‘s. Whatever.

Most blogs have a link to their archives. Yes, those are mine.

Go to the archives of a blogger you admire, go back to the very, very beginning and read the very, very first posts.

And no, this is not about whether they suck or not. You don’t want to get lost in that awful internal criticism game of “okay, fine, this is crap but it’s still less crappy than mine will be” because that goes nowhere but it goes there for a really long time.

What you’re doing is discovering (or reminding yourself) that even the best blogging voices are not born that way.

A blogging voice doesn’t rise from the ocean fully formed like super-hot non-blogger Aphrodite, or pop out of the head of Zeus like the strategic genius Athena who reigns over wisdom and warfare and also doesn’t blog.*

* Expert tip #2: Don’t write like THAT.

Anyway, reading people’s archives is always good for a laugh a terrific reminder that these. Things. Take. Time.

The best voices — the ones you love the most — have grown and developed and changed. Read our early stuff. Listen to our voices crack and stutter.

You’ll be amazed.

Think email.

The most important thing about a blogging voice is that it’s casual.

More like an email to a friend than a noozletter to a bunch of important clients.

The biggest mistake I see in blogs — especially business and “personal development” blogs is that they’re super preachy. Too authoritative. Too bossy. I do this in my earliest and most cringe-worthy posts like crazy.

And I reread them to remind myself (again with the reminders!) about the dynamic, ever-changing stream-of-life process thing.

Stuff changes. This can be alternately terrifying and reassuring, but in the end it can be liberating too — if you let it.

Your voice is a work in progress, like everything else. It will shift and move to accommodate different situations, and it will become something you’ll get to have a pretty intimate relationship with.

Wait, tell me more about this mistake thing. Don’t I want to seem authoritative and like I kind of know what I’m talking about?

Here’s the thing. You’re already an authority by virtue of the fact that a. you have a blog and b. you’re giving advice or answering questions or discussing stuff.

And what people crave from you (and me, and anyone) is connection. And intimacy.

The more you hide behind your podium of expertise, the more distance you put between you and the reader.

And not the sexy kind of distance. The off-putting, chasm-building, “I can’t connect with this person” kind.

We all ruin posts all the time by thinking we have to have a point every single time, or forgetting to admit that yeah, there are things we don’t know.

Puffed-up biggified experts who speak only in authoritative lists of seven ways to do this and eight ways to screw up that … they’re a dime a dozen. They’re interchangeable. They’re expendable.

We’re not coming for your expertise, really. There are all sorts of places to get that. Sure, the information is nice. But we’re really coming for you.

I mean that. We come to your blog because you’re there. For some time with you. For your voice. For that reassuring, comforting feeling of “hey, this is a safe place for me to hang out and get replenished.”

Write to someone you love.

When I started writing my noozletters, I used to write them to one of my favorite clients.

In addition to being a super cool person, she was a symbol for me of where my business was going. She was smart and funny and kooky and totally got my work and where I was going with it.

I wanted all my clients to be like her.

So when I wrote a noozletter, I’d pretend that I was writing an email to her, answering one of her smart, interesting questions.

That’s where my blogging voice began. It’s me, talking to people I like. Like you.

And I have to say, now all my clients are that cool, which means (to me, at least) this voice thing works in magical and mysterious ways.

Well, maybe not all that mysterious. But if you write to your Right People, they’ll be seriously overjoyed to find you.

It’s an ongoing dynamic process.

I know. We’ve talked about this. In fact, two weeks ago when I was talking about de-shouldifying, I said:

And just like your life and your business, blogging is a living, dynamic process. It will change. Steadily and regularly.

Life is flow. That is … well, it’s the way of things.

Of course your voice will change. As you write, it will become more you. It will loosen up, lose some of the stiltedness, some of the formality that comes from fear and insecurity and just not knowing.

It will change register — becoming friendlier as you get to know the people reading and become friends with them. Hi guys! *blows kiss*

So give it time. And love. And remember that hardly anyone will go back and read your early posts unless you decide to draw attention to them by linking to them.*

*Well, aside from all the people who have read This Very Post. They’re totally going to be peeking in your archives. Bwahahahahaha!

Let your first posts be exactly what they are and how they are. And one day someone else will read them and say, Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? You were nervous? YOU?

And that person will be inspired and moved to start their own thing and meet their own fears.

And it will be awesome.

You don’t need to find it. You’ve never lost it.

I don’t want to get all yoga teacher on you, but really. Your voice isn’t something to find. It’s yours. You already have it.

You just haven’t gotten to the point yet where it feels safe to access it and to sink into it, but it’s totally there. It’s waiting for you.

The flowing, moving, ever-changing thing that is your voice is already doing its thing, even if only inside your head. The voice that says sweet, funny things? The sarcastic grumblebug?

The conversations you have between the part of you that really believes you can do it and the part of you that is petrified that you’ll fall down and get hurt?

It’s all part of your voice. It belongs to you to do what you want with it. You know, with practice. Over time. But it’s yours.

That’s it for now!

Tomorrow I’ll be doing an End Of The Year version of my weekly Friday Chicken.

In the meantime, send some love to my amazing Blogging Therapy course participants and to all the other Fluent Self-ified readers who are secretly working on blogging it up over their holiday break.

And yeah, more Blogging Therapy next week. I mean, next year. Internet hugs all around!

15 Responses to Blogging Therapy: Finding your voice

  1. Ulla Hennig says:

    Havi,
    one of the things which impressed me most when reading your article is: “Write to someone you love”. I am blogging since July, and I have a few people coming to my blog regularly. By visiting their blogs, commenting there and reading other people’s comments there I got to know them, and when I write a post I write in order to bring joy to them, one way or the other, by putting up a one of my pictures, telling something about the pic or just telling a story.

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..The Best Posts of 2008

  2. Joely Black says:

    These blogging therapy posts are brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed them and it’s really encouraged and given me confidence to open up more in my own blogging. Thank you!

    P.S. Especially love the de-shouldifying. Wonderful.

    Joely Blacks last blog post..In which I use the word ‘monetize’

  3. Charlie says:

    So I’m slowly writing this ebook in the background about blogging, and everytime you write one of these awesome posts, I have less novel content. And it’s not nearly as endearing. How about we split the difference, okay? :p

    When I’m talking to folks about starting their blog and the scariness of the process, I tell them the truth: you won’t really find your voice for a while. Yes, it’s there, but it’ll take a lot of you putting yourself out there before you find which parts of yourself are hiding behind expertise and insecurities and which parts are you. In the meantime, just keep writing and connecting.

    I cringe at most of my Most Popular posts, and the one that frames my blog is the worst. It’s okay, though – one of these days there’ll be posts up there that I really like. Until then, I’ll keep writing, keeping helping, and keep connecting.

    Oh, and totally write to either someone you love or someone you know. Writing for “anybody” is the surest way to get icky blog posts. I think I said this in the response to an earlier Blogging Therapy post.

    *hugs*

    Charlies last blog post..Stop Shuffling and Start Creating

  4. I just recently started taking my static site and dividing it up into blogs, so I can be more interactive with the people who visit. I don’t know why, but it started as a great idea and then managed to morph into a scary endeavor.

    Today, the scariness seemed to fade away, for whatever reason, and I have been typing away and working on them.

    I just started imagining and “talking through my typing” like I was talking to a friend or writing on a message board full of people that I have come to know. It’s really no different. The people that come to your blog are just friends you haven’t met yet. (That sounded a bit cheezy..lol)

    A Grand New Year to You!

  5. Havi,

    Once again you come up with the perfectly timed post to address what I’ve been stressing about. I’m going to try the “writing to a friend” approach today and see if that gets me through my current stuck. Though I would ask this, as an extension: what if you don’t like the voice that’s emerging in your posts?

  6. Maryann Devine
    Twitter: maryanndevine
    says:

    I like the idea of writing to someone you love, too.

    After 3 years, I’m still working on my blogging voice. I tend toward the preachy and worry that I’m too critical. These are real pitfalls! After all, I’m *supposed* to be the expert, right? I’m trying to help people, right?

    Although in the beginning I didn’t shy away from talking about my own mistakes, it’s only recently (3 years later!) that I feel I’ve been able to open up and let my real voice come through. Thinking about that reader I want to support really helps.

    Thanks for doing this, Havi!

  7. OMG, stars colliding, orbits converging. This post is so timely for me right now, it’s freaky. Of course, since all of your posts seem to apply to pretty much everything all the time, perhaps I’m just needing the love right now.

    See, I started my own blog. (*Squealing* because now everyone will see me naked on the internets.)

    One of my big problems with my writing is the stress I feel to impress everyone with my brilliance, cleverness, etc. Ick. But it’s a hurdle I have to get over every time I sit down at my computer, so I wanted practice writing authentically. Practice just being me, which sounds so ridiculous, except it’s not.

    So, I started a blog, just for me, where I could talk about my writing and running my own business and how I’m so afraid most of the time that someone will catch on. And I’m SO excited/terrified about it, but it’s the right thing for me to do right now. And I wish all of Havi’s Blogging Therapy clients much luck with theirs. Send a link and I’ll come visit! Promise!

  8. Karen says:

    I have tears in my eyes… I don’t need to find my voice. I never lost it.

  9. chris zydel
    Twitter: wildheartqueen
    says:

    Hey Havi,

    Yes, I was also moved and startled by the suggestion to write your posts as if you are writing to someone that you love. It’s just so OBVIOUS that that would be a really good idea but it never occurred to me before. At least not in that way. But now it’s like DUH….(said to myself in the kindest, most self loving way).

    I think that part of your genius is being able to articulate things that we already know for ourselves but just haven’t gotten around to saying out loud. And then YOU say it out loud. And It’s like remembering something that I never really forgot in the first place!

    Oh my god, but does that make any sense at all??? I have a really bad cold right now and I think that my brains are all scrambled up with icky, drippy stuff.

    Anyway, I have a little confession to make. This whole blogging thing is also very new to me. I have a blog but I have been mainly using it to store my monthly newsletter articles ( which I hope aren’t TOO personal development preachy). I haven’t really been part of the blogging community but I’m dipping my toe in a bit now, using a lot of what I’m learning from you to ( Ahem) MIDWIFE my blog.

    However, I am still mostly using my blog for my newsletter articles . And although I am practicing being more transparent and vulnerable in those writings ( which is scary and good) my confession is that where I am REALLY practicing letting my real, uncensored, goofy, playful, wise, tender hearted self come out is here in the comments section of your blog!!!

    Because I feel safe here. And I know that you and your tribe of goofy, wise, tender hearted folks appreciates the humanity and realness. And I get to be out there, but not totally, completely yet in an official way on my own blog. It’s like blogging training wheels.

    OK….. So, now…. Am I really going to post this thing? Yes, I think I will.

    What have I got to lose?

    chris zydels last blog post..PAIN FREE CREATIVITY: YOU DON’T REALLY NEED TO SUFFER FOR YOUR ART

  10. Yooper says:

    If my voice sounds like a bad Chris Walken impersonation…what does that mean?

    ok bad joke.

    The funny thing is, when I let go of the question…”What should I write today?”…and the panic subsides and I just sorta “pound the keys” generally (not always) a post-able page comes out….my voice can’t spell or edit worth a damn, but it’s getting better.

    Sometimes I think…geez to I even want to do this? Is this really fun for me? Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. So I have decided to give it two more years (or so) and if I still don’t like it, then I’ll find something else to do.

    Now, I really like building buzz on forums on blogs (opps you caught me!) more than content creation…a couple of times this buzz building has inspired a page or two, and has created a bump in traffic and inbound links.

    So whenever I just don’t feel like writing, I will still write…even if I write…today, I don’t feel like writing, so I will go build some buzz…this works for now.

    THANKS for being you and letting me share your you-ness and your duck.

    Love, Feed, Serve.

  11. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    You guys are the best, seriously.

    Everyone run over to Diane’s blog (sweet Diane, who probably regrets the fact that she will now — forever be known as the Milk Duds lady) and cheer her on. It’s full of all kinds of wonderfulness.

    She’s at OutdrivingMyHeadlights.com. Really good stuff. Talk about a voice. She’s got one. Go leave her some comments!

    Oh, and @Chris? Your comment hit me straight in the funny bone for some reason and I’m still giggling. And I’m delighted that you feel safe here to be your goofball self.

    Everyone else? Chris Zydel is a TOTAL goofball and one of the most all-around fun people I know.

    More to come. My gentleman friend just yelled FOODS! And I must heed the call.

    xo

  12. Chloe
    Twitter: chloewrites
    says:

    This comment is really for tomorrow’s year in review post, but I’m having my moment of clarity right now so it’s coming early.

    I just wanted to say that discovering your blog was the catalyst for me to finally start giving myself a break and letting myself rest this year. You’ve also helped me to start recognising what I *actually* need and want, rather than what I *think* I need and want or what I think I *should* need and want. Thank you for that.

    I’m really looking forward to using your techniques – as well as non-sucky yoga – to clear out some of the glub-glub I told you about in my weirdy beardy email. I think even just telling you about the glub-glub theory has made it easier for me to recognise it and get rid of it.

    Thanks for helping me make my self a tiny bit more fluent this year! Much love to you and Selma.

    Chloes last blog post..Death to 2008

  13. Laurie | Your Ill-fitting Overcoat
    Twitter: your_overcoat
    says:

    “Write to someone you love.”

    What a wonderful tip! Definitely will be keeping that one in mind… I love this whole series, thanks for taking the time to share it with us!

    Laurie | Your Ill-fitting Overcoats last blog post..28 Things I Hate About You (My Dashboard Confessional)

  14. […] and general wackiness. If you write a blog, you might like this post she wrote about finding your ‘voice’. I just found it last week. […]

  15. Orilea says:

    Havi,

    I’ve come back to this series again and again. This series is my touchstone when I start, re-start, or start again. Thank you for providing it!

    I revisited this series yesterday, as I have been finding my way to writing more. It has pointed me to my own right directions yet again.

    Particularly this issue of authenticity and voice (and vulnerability). SO GOOD. So freeing this has been!

    And today’s freshest post (“Just for Fun? Yes.”) was the awesome result. There was a true ‘zing’ in me when I wrote it today. I felt the pulse of my own voice. And – while I didn’t do it for this reason directly – I received one of the best compliments of my life on it from someone whose opinion I greatly respect, and that only indicates my me-ness was really showing up.

    Thank you, yet again, for helping me excavate myself just *that* much more.

    With gratitude + love,
    Orilea
    Orilea recently posted… Just For Fun? YES.

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