Finding our Voice as Writers

This blog post isn’t what it was intended to be. My plan—inspired by two renowned authors—was two-fold. Firstly, I would write a clever adaptation of Stephen Covey’s bestseller and call it the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers.” Secondly, I would follow the advice of blogging guru Michael Hyatt, and write it in approximately 70 minutes. By my calculations, I could just squeeze it out between taking my cat to the vet and meeting a friend for lunch.

Or not.

It turns out that it takes me longer to write an opening paragraph than it takes Michael Hyatt to post an entire blog. Maybe that explains why he’s the guru.

Although I’ve never thought about it before, I now realise that I don’t watch the clock when I write. Neither do I write to an outline (another Hyatt method), but rather I have a sense of what I want to say and then jump into the flow of words to see where the tide takes me. It’s an exciting way to write a novel, making one more of a spectator to the character-driven events, than the controlling director. It also works well for my bible devotionals, where I ‘step into’ a bible scene and give bible characters emotions and thoughts. However, whether it is a viable method for writing “How to” articles such as this one, remains to be seen.

There are several lessons I learnt from this morning’s futile writing session:

Understand your own Writing Process

Take some time to analyse what works for you as a writer. This includes elements such as the time of day and location in which you write. Do you write to music or in silence? Do you try beating the clock (Hyatt) or are you oblivious of time (me)? Do you need a detailed plan to work to, or do the thoughts flow as you write?

Write to your Strengths, but Experiment

I’ve tried my hand at a bit of everything, from serious poetry to children’s books and from satire (not my strength) to short stories. Although I think it is to our advantage to focus our energies on our writing strengths, it also develops us when we stretch into other areas. Also, remember that ultimately we write because it is creative and fun—enjoy it!

Be Yourself

This morning I was trying to shape myself into something I wasn’t. Even the “Seven Habits” topic wasn’t my own creation. Rather, it was the brainchild of my husband who had given an–I’m sure, riveting–speech called the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Auditors.” As writers we are all designed with a unique writing ‘voice’ and part of our journey is discovering just what that sounds like. We are not meant to sound like anybody else. Rather, we need to develop and enhance our voice, in order for it to ring out ever more truly into the world.

Learn from your Failures

This morning’s writing session was a dismal failure, but through it I gained new insights into myself and the writing process. This evening I deleted the useless 70 minute paragraph and started with a blank Word document. How often we have to do this as writers—find new plot directions, alternate publishing opportunities, different means to have our voice heard. That’s what makes writing so interesting—it’s never stagnant.

This is apparently where my tide of words dumps me. And, being true to my love of quotes, I end off with some words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”


Read Micheal Hyatt’s post “How to Write a Blog Post in 70 Minutes or Less”

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  1. I am glad this turned out to be uniquely you – never underestimate what you can offer! I loved the new insights even though they were maybe not attributable to my riveting speech.

  2. I read both blogs (yours and Micheal Hyatt’s post ). But I like your way of doing it better. It comes from the heart and there is no pressure?? (I think). A time line would put pressure on it. Rather forget the kids, dinner, hubby etc., and we’ll know that you are completely focused!

  3. Love this! I always hated writing traditional outlines. Often I don’t know exactly where a story is going until I get there. My pen sometimes has a mind of its own. That is exciting for me!

    • Thanks Ruth. I love the ‘not knowing’ too. In fact that’s what keeps me writing–I want to know how it ends. (I’m not sure that makes sense to anyone who isn’t a writer!)

  4. Mmm…I work with people who do things according to plans and reasons – all day long. Their work fits in boxes. Guess what I am trying to say – what you do – is your love and passion…it shouldn’t fit into anyone’s box. My way of thinking is that your way allows it to be creative and fun. I think the Guru writes to produce and has lost sight of the love of words, of the magic and the unexpected places it can take you if you let it.

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