In a recent workshop I taught, one attendee said she was having trouble with her writing because a “preacher” voice kept entering her writing. This writer felt stuck and thought the “preacher voice” was getting in her way.
When writing and creating, I believe in listening to what our brain wants us to try. It’s these moments of inspiration that can lead us into an exciting direction.
“Why not embrace that preacher voice?” I asked her.
She hadn’t thought of doing that before, because she thought the voice was something to avoid. She set down to continue writing despite “preacher voice.”
Your Voice Creates Your Leadership Position
Our voices set us apart from each other. Each of us has a voice as unique as our fingerprints based on how we see the world, what we’ve read, who we are and why we do our work. Consider the differences between Maya Angelou’s voice and Stephen King’s voice. They are vastly different (which is why I’m using them as an example!). Compare Joan Didion to Kurt Vonnegut. If you know any of these these writers well, you can probably identify their work by their word choice and how they construct their sentences. These elements contribute to the creation of voice and their “writing fingerprint.”
Companies and brands have their “writing fingerprint” too. The companies that are good at this share who they are all the way through every touchpoint. Zappos customer service reps have talked to me about music and cats when I’ve used chat messaging to get help. MailChimp gives me a hive five (with a monkey paw) when I hit “send” on an email. Acuity Scheduling tells me that the “insanity is almost over” and that my trial is “totally” free. Every step of the way, these companies set themselves apart and make themselves memorable.
What Creates a Voice?
These are a handful of elements that go into making a unique voice:
- Word choices (fancy words or easy-to-undersrtand words?)
- Use of slang or no?
- Sentence length and structure
- The stories we tell
- The stories we don’t tell
Your Voice and Stories Tell Us Who You Are
Unless our brains are saying something mean to us (something like “you can’t do this”), we should pay attention to their creative direction at least some of the time. We can dig up the good stuff with freewriting exercise that let us extract stories and voices more interesting than the stories and voices we use now. If that workshop participant continued to fight against that preacher voice that arrived so naturally to her during the writing process, she’d be spending her valuable writing time in a fight. Who wants that?
It Takes Courage to Find and Use Our Voice
What are the possibilities available to my workshop participant if she followed her inclination to write in the preacher voice? What could she discover about her work and herself if she followed this creative path?
By embracing the voice that came to her, she could get on with the business of writing. She won’t know what will happen unless she tries the new voice on. If it doesn’t fit, she can edit it out later. One fear a writer could have is that the voice that comes to them might sound silly or “off.” It’s possible that could happen, and that’s why we revise and edit our work (or hire someone to help us). Conversely, what if she’s the only one to write in a possibly funny preacher voice on her topic? This voice could set her work apart from all of the other people writing books, articles and blog posts in her market.
Your Voice Sets You Apart
No one tells a story like you do. No one sees and experiences the world like you do. Your voice is unique. It’s you. It lets people know who you are, what you stand for and how you see the world. In short, it can form your leadership position.