This morning while we were doing dishes, James and I were talking about writing. He pointed out that one of the benefits of doing a lot of writing is that over time, you develop your own writing "voice." Many people talk about having a "voice" in the context of making writing easier to read, but James pointed out something slightly different. Once you have found your writing voice, it's in your head with you all the time -- even when you're mundane things like doing dishes.
With your writing voice following you around everywhere, it makes it easier to just sit down and write something when it's time to do so. Many people have commented on the sheer volume of writing I tend to produce every week. It's not because I'm particularly special; it's because I've found my writing voice.
When you write a lot, your little "writer voice" is there working for you all the time. When you have a deadline, your brain knows it. You formulate a germ of an idea for that thing you need to write, and your brain goes off and chews on it. Often you can essentially write half the article in your head before you ever sit down at the keyboard.
For example, while I was doing dishes and talking to James, I also was busily formulating the title for this article. I came up with the verb "unleash" and decided I liked it, so I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. I also wrote down a couple of other notes, since I knew it would be a while before I would get to my keyboard and write the article. (Please do not operate a computer and do dishes at the same time!)
So now you might be thinking, "How do I develop this writing voice?" Here's the bad news. Your writing voice only comes with practice. Most people who struggle to write don't realize that a lot of the frustration is because they simply don't have much writing experience. Writing is like anything else; it requires practice to develop your skills.
Once I set my mind to it, I can write an article like this one in less than an hour. Sometimes I can even crank one out in 15 minutes if I'm really on a roll. But the last time I looked, I calculated that I have written about 1200-1500 articles a lot like this one over the last 9 or 10 years. All that writing, along with my books and hundreds of other articles that I was paid to write, means I've reached a level of competence at writing.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell points out that it takes most people about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. The reason writing is easier for me than it is for a lot of other people is because I've put in my time. Let's face it, most people bail out on anything that requires practice or seems "hard."
Many people assume that some people are just "natural" writers. It's more likely that they are just practiced writers. The reason journalists at daily papers so often write books later in life is because they have a lot of practice writing and have developed discipline by meeting deadlines every single day. With practice comes your writing voice and an almost intuitive sense of organization, which makes it easier to churn out a lot of words quickly.
If you are feeling discouraged about getting your book or an article done, take the advice self-publishing guru Dan Poynter includes in his email signature: "Go sit down and write something!"
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