Yesterday I had the privilege of interviewing writer Jeff Goins. We discussed his latest book You Are A Writer on my Unofficial Linchpin podcast and it’s clear that Jeff knows his creative voice. Later in the day though I talked with a friend as she searched for her creative voice. So what’s the difference between those who have found their creative voice and those who haven’t? Here are some ways to find your voice.
1. Stop consuming
There were 638 unread articles in my RSS feed app as I rode the bus home from work. They were all from one day. How stupid is it to read or try to read 638 articles? If you consume bite sized ideas all day your mind will be fragmented into small thoughts. There is power in a larger narrative. Unsubscribe from newsletters, RSS feeds or magazines that cause you to think quickly and shallow. They’re likely doing more harm than good to your creative abilities.
2. Create first
At the beginning of your day don’t consume any content that distracts you. The Bible is the only thing I’ll consume (and I often skip that) before I start creating. When you shut out the influence of blogs, newspapers and other distractions your mind will function better. Your mind is fresh and fertile in the morning. Create first.
3. Listen well
If anyone comments on your content via voicemail (this is often the case for podcasters), the comments section of your blog or via email then you need to pay attention to that. If your content is resonating with them then consider writing similar content in the future. I don’t suggest you write for them, you should write for yourself, but you should listen to them and then continue creating content of a similar theme.
4. Don’t wait
Chris Guillebeau says (Never) save it for later in his post by that same title. If you have a great idea then create it and ship it as soon as you can. Implementing your ideas and spreading them quickly is a great way to have them mature and spread more quickly. Some content creators think there are moments of inspiration that should be saved for the “perfect moment”. I have great news, that perfect moment is always right now. Don’t save any content for later. Ship it.
5. Live first
Take the mental energy you’re spending trying to figure out what your message is and go live a better life. Take more risks, more naps, more ways to work, more time with you family and more friends to lunch. Live a better story and your message will come to the surface. If you’re sitting in a room trying to figure out what interesting things to talk about regarding your life you’ll come up empty every time. Live first, create second.
6. Create surplus
Real writers know that many of their words will never be published. They create anyway. I recorded the first episode of my newest podcast show (Books For A Better You) five times. Each time I recorded I got better. I’ll only need one take for most of the future shows. Create because you know that the more you create the better your content should become.
7. Grow up
Chris gets two shout outs in one post. He tweeted this week:
If you’re not embarrassed by work you did years ago, you probably haven’t evolved or developed much.
— Chris Guillebeau (@chrisguillebeau) May 14, 2012
Recognize that you’re going to create today and in a few years you’ll create stuff that’s 10X better. Growing up and maturing in your work is what professionals do. Assuming maturation and be grateful when you look back at your past work with embarrassment. It means you’re better than you used to be. That’s the point
Do you have any other keys? Which one of these will you implement first?