You have a voice, and whether speaking or writing, discovering it can prove difficult, even exasperating. How do you do it? You’re listening to a fellow explorer, not a master, nor even an amateur. But here’s what I’ve found useful so far.
The first two points are mental and intellectual, as, in truth, communication always begins.
First: Pay attention
You have to notice how you talk in real life, everyday, with people. Are you formal informal? Do you say Hi Hello or Hey? Do you say Good Morning, Mornin’ or a Good Day? Pay attention to your patterns. Then compare and contrast those patterns with how you email those same people. Are they the same or different? Work on matching the two. Not to force it, but to make your emails sound like you.
Second: Self talk
How do you talk to yourself? Are you a comedian? A professor? An expert? The sage? An assistant? Philosopher, Counselor, Psychologist? On what subject(s) do you dwell? You may find that you view yourself in many roles, and you will find that there are roles that you never want to play (e.g., I never think of myself in a large classroom teaching, but I imagine myself teaching a small class, informally).
These two points aren’t about right or wrong – it’s about finding out how you think you do things, and how you A. really do things and B. how you want to do things.
Just start writing. Below are some tools to get you going. This step is also largely mental. Why don’t you write? What are you afraid of? I was afraid of revealing thoughts to the world. Your thoughts are you, plain and simple. And when you put yourself out there, you risk being negatively criticized. This leads to the why of your writing – activism, sharing happiness, making people see the light, etc…but that’s not for this topic. If you want it private, just get a locked journal and write a sentence whenever you want. You have to feel free to write, so don’t just start with “I will write 20 minutes a day no matter what.” If you need something private and electronic, then open up Notepad (or whatever the equivalent is on a Mac or your device) and type. Then don’t copy or save it – hit delete.
The following tools are great and free ways to practice communicating through the written word.
*Email* – practice writing like you. TAKE NOTE: There should be more to you than just one type of conversation. You can have your own way of saying things, but you will talk to your parents differently than you talk to your spouse, than to your children, than to your friend, than to your congresscritter. So when you write your emails, take note of how you actually speak when speaking to a friend, contrasted with how you speak to the president of your company. Make it you, but be aware.
*Poetry* – Poetry, in all of it various forms (more than you might think), especially Haiku, is excellent for distilling your thoughts into speech. You get to explore different ways of conveying information, experiences, feelings, and so on. I prefer Haiku (3 unrhymed lines, 5-7-5 syllables, in the present tense), as it is about as succinct as one can get. Like this:
I prefer Haiku
A way to communicate;
It is quite succinct
*Twitter* – Just get on there and type. Make it private if you really don’t want to show the world your stuff. There’s nothing magic about 140 characters, but it’s a simple way to limit yourself (Notepad++ is a free and small program that counts words). As any artist knows – and this applies to poetic forms – creativity thrives, and even requires, some kind of limitation.
*LinkedIn* – This allows you to write for business or professional purposes. You have to think differently here than on Twitter or Facebook. You’re in the pro world on LinkedIn, and you’re actually building your business network, persona and reputation. So you can learn how to voice your thoughts professionally and more formally.
*Facebook* – this is both a learning and a diagnostic tool. You can share new things with family and friends and see how they react. Take note of what people respond to. Your wisdom and wit might not be appreciated by family and friends – a prophet has no honor in his hometown. 🙂 Photos that you take and share are typically much more popular than ideas you may share. So on the venue of Facebook, you could try to lighten people’s day with natural beauty and encouraging words. But be you! Write as you, share as you – do your best to present the total you here. Write posts so that people get to know you – they’re your friends and family, so let them know your political thoughts, spiritual journey, household goings-on, share photos of the family, ask for help.
*Blog* – Yes, there’s blogging, like WordPress. But it’s usually a little more complicated (design, layout, features, buttons), while the others are straightforward. I’m not against blogging at all (as you can see from my blog), but it can be a little tedious when you’re learning to write and you have all of these features and options and gadgets on the screen. Free is good, so just take 10 minutes to sign up for and into a free site and start writing. If it helps, then by all means do it!