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Have you heard the saying that you become the sum of the five people you spend the most time around?
It’s a social psychology teaching that’s usually applied to personal development:
Wish you were happier? Surround yourself with cheery, glass-half-full types.
Want to be healthier? Start hanging out with active friends.
Looking to grow your business? Join a mastermind with people more advanced than you.
But you know where most people DON’T think to apply this lesson?
It’s true, bud. You become the sum of the five people you read the most.
And taking advantage of that fact will help you find your writing voice that’s every bit as cool, quirky, or funny as your favorite writer…but YOU-ier.
There’s a lot of talk about how to find your writing voice. And there’s a reason for that…
A strong writing voice helps in so many ways:
– Creates a three-dimensional brand
– Helps people form a personal connection (a prerequisite to purchasing)
– Adds a layer of consistency to your marketing
But here’s the thing…
You can’t just find your writing voice. It’s not an Easter egg hunt where your voice is out there somewhere, in an obvious hiding spot, just waiting to be found. It’s a process that, like recovering from heartbreak or perfecting the Patronus spell, only comes with time and practice.
You pull out this super simple practice to help you find your writing voice.
It only takes a few minutes but makes a huge difference when it comes to creating a personable brand that people feel they “know”.
Make sure to read to the end, because Step 5 is the part that most people forget about…the part that makes them sound like a cheap, knockoff [[INSERT FAVORITE GURU HERE]] instead of their own, original piece of couture.
So let’s get to it…
5 steps to find your writing voice
1. Choose your Muse5
Your Muse5 are 5 people whose writing voices sound the way you want to sound.
Don’t sweat the number too much. You can even whittle it down to 3, if that feels better. I just don’t want you to overwhelm yourself by picking 47.
Be deliberate here and don’t just pick someone because they’re popular or funny or cool. Focus on 5 people whose writing personality matches the one YOU want to have.
My writing would suck if I tried to be edgy or super sweet or over-the-top dramatic. If those people were in my Muse5, I’d feel inauthentic and have to edit my work a bajillion times before hitting “publish”. So choose 5 voices you love that also feel like you.
2. Follow + pay attention
Now that you have your Muse5, start paying attention.
Sign up for those people’s emails.
Listen to their podcasts.
Read their blogs.
Follow them on social media.
Watch their videos.
This isn’t a permission slip to mindlessly stalk their accounts. We’re talking about conscious consumption, here. This isn’t just another voice in your social media feed — it’s one you’ve decided is important.
So make it a point to generally pay attention when they open their (digital) mouths to speak.
3. Pre-writing ritual
Once you start tuning in to the content from people in your Muse5, you’ll soak up some of their voices and styles without even realizing it, like voice osmosis.
When you sit down to write, it’s time to dial up the volume.
Just like you can put on the right song to find hidden energy or emotions, you can read the right copy to find your writing voice.
Before you start writing, take 10-15 minutes to read your Muse5’s content. Let your brain marinate in their words and personality for a few minutes to get it in the right groove for writing.
Really hear their voices in your head. Soak up their vibe. Feel the words as you read them. Podcasts or videos can be great here because they give you another way to sense the words.
4. Bang out a garbage draft
In this case, garbage is a beautiful thing.
Once you’ve spent a few minutes surrounding yourself with your favorite voices, it’s time to start writing your piece.
The key here? Dump it out as quickly as you can.
Don’t censor yourself. Let the words flow fast and loose. There’s a limited shelf-life to the time your Muse5 voices stay in your head and you want them to work their magic.
You can edit to your heart’s content, okay, sugar dumpling? No one is going to read this garbage draft. I promise!
For now, your goal is DONE, not perfect. Not even good or adequate, for that matter. Just donezo.
If you struggle to get your garbage draft out, (and you’re more hardcore than me,) try The Most Dangerous Writing App. It’s a free web app that deletes your work if you stop writing for too long.
After the garbage draft comes the revision. Read through your work and cut, paste, delete, add, and tweak until things feel right.
(And this is the most crucial step of the whole process!)…
Include one more round of revisions to intentionally YOU-ify it.
Read through what you’ve written and MEvise: deliberately add in a layer of YOU on top.
Inject a few or your -isms. Swap out a few adjectives and replace them with words you say a lot. Include a saying or two that often comes out of your mouth. Include an example that shows your personality. Pick a few choice words that are utterly YOUR VOICE and make sure they’re in there.
To give you a peek behind the curtain? Here are a few words/phrases I added to this post during my MEvision:
– perfecting the Patronus spell
– juuuuust a lil’ bit
– better to be one person’s shot of whiskey, rather than everyone’s cuppa tea
If you skip your MEvisions, you’ll sound like a cheap knockoff instead of the genuine article.
It’s so much better to be one person’s shot of whiskey, rather than everyone’s cuppa tea. Don’t be afraid to include glimpses of your uniqueness during the MEvision stage. This is what will ultimately bond your readers to you.
The goal is to get to a point where you don’t need to lean on your Muse5 to find your writing voice. Someday, if you keep with it, you’ll be able to sit down and know exactly how to write so it sounds like you were out for coffee with a friend.
Until then, use this technique to help you find your writing voice — and have a bloody good time in the writing process. :p
join the convo
What do you struggle with most when it comes to your writing voice?
Do you have a clear voice already? If so, how did you find your writing voice?
Who’s ONE person who will make up your Muse5?