8 powerful tips
Have you ever listened to yourself on an answering machine message or cell phone voice recorder? Pretty cringeworthy, right? Well, that’s what it’s like when you don’t read back your written work to yourself before posting it lor publishing it. Sure, those words on the screen are yours, but it doesn’t really sound like you. It’s kind of like taking a shower with your raincoat on.
I’ve found there’s no better way to edit yourself than to read back aloud the final draft of a blog post, article, case study, presentation or white paper, before making it live for the world to see. If you know of writing software or a grammar app that can filter your words better than the voice inside your head can, I’d love to hear from you and check it out.
Just as no two people have the exact same speech patterns, no two people have the same way of expressing themselves through the written word. Whether you enjoy the writing process or put it in the same category as a root canal or colonoscopy, here are eight powerful tips for finding and refining your inner voice:
- Create space in your life and schedule. When time is flying by during the workday, your brain can be on overdrive, too. Unfortunately, when you’re just racing from task to task, you’re not allowing yourself time to get to a higher level of thinking that good writing requires. To avoid being a 24/7 task rabbit, you’ve got to give yourself time to slow down. The best way to tap into your inner voice is to create more space between your thoughts, so your intuition can literally get a word in edgewise.
- Practice deep listening. This involves releasing judgment (and the impulse to respond, criticize or edit) when someone else is speaking. Can you go more than 15 seconds without interrupting or making a snarky remark on the side? Fully tuning in to what the other person is saying improves your capacity to listen to yourself.
3. Journaling. For a week, try to write two or three pages (longhand form) every single morning (or evening) when you have a quit moment in your day. Write anything that comes to mind to get going, and usually, by the end of the third page, your inner voice will reveal clear and concrete direction. Don’t worry about spelling, typos or syntax. Just write. Don’t worry, your first draft is supposed to suck and nobody is passing judgement.
- Take a break from tech. Allow yourself to be in silence with few distractions, particularly without any phones, computers, or TVs. Don’t try to force your inner voice to speak to you. Just create the right conditions for deep inner listening — quiet alone time. If that’s too much of a shock to your system try this experiment: Next time you go to the gym or on a long hike, bike ride or run by yourself, try doing it without headphones on. Just listen to your breathing and the sound of your own footsteps. You’ll be amazed by what your brain comes up with when you’re truly alone with your thoughts and not competing with other devices for your attention.
- Practice being in a flow state. Find a project or projects that get you into a flow state—a state of being in which you’re so immersed in your work or the task at hand, that you lose track of time. Being in a flow state is empowering and can give you the mental space needed for your inner voice to come through.
- Read as much as you can as often as you can. Put down the remote and your devices and just read. It could be the newspaper, a novel, a magazine, a cookbook. It doesn’t have to be anything career related or good for your mental health. Just find something you enjoy reading and pay attention to how the author introduces an idea, sets the scene, strings together the plot or argument, and then wraps it up before you move on to the next chapter or article.
- Emulate writers you admire. Whether it’s a journalist, novelist, blogger, or even a cartoonist that you admire, read everything you can by that author and pay attention to the style elements that help define his or her writing voice. What is the author’s cadence? Short crisp sentences or long descriptive ones? Is the pacing consistent, or do they alternative between short sentences and long ones? Do they have an esoteric vocabulary are do they intentionally use short, simple words and phrase to make the most complex concepts sound simple? There is no single best formula. Just get a feel for what you like and consider how that style will reflect on your personal brand.
- Set a timer. Before your next writing project, take out an alarm clock or the countdown timer on your phone. Give yourself X amount of time to get your thoughts down and then Y amount of time for editing. After that, it’s pencils down and time to post. I give myself 45 minutes for weekly blog: 30 minutes of free form writing + 10 minutes of editing time. Then I step away for at least two hours before setting the timer for five more minutes reading back myself aloud and making final tweaks before posting.
Not every post is going to be a winner, but “timeboxing” yourself makes your writing muscles stronger and more supple. It prevents you from procrastinating or worse, from getting into the endless self-editing loop which can cause you to second-guess yourself, usually for the worse.
As Steve Jobs once said at a Stanford University commencement speech: “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Whatever helps you get in touch with your inner voice, do it, and do it often. It may seem easier to look for answers outside of yourself, but with a little patience, trust, and good listening skills, you’ll be able to tune into your inner voice for guidance when you need it most.
What’s your take? I’d love to hear from you.
# persuasivewriting, #innervoice, #contentcreation