My voice when I write for you is a combination of 3 things:
- My experience
(If you know me, you know that I actually believe the concept of voice is more complicated than this. Because I make EVERYTHING MORE COMPLICATED. See: personality.)
But setting that aside! I’ve been kicking around ways to encapsulate and simplify explaining the work of writing for thought leadership.
This Venn diagram has been in my head for a while. When I started writing publicly on my own platform, the Venn diagram looked more like this…
Venn Diagram, Version 1:
I held back my personality and I made it smaller because I was afraid people wouldn’t like me and that my personality would undermine my authority.
I held back a lot of specifics about my life and work experience because I was terrified my experience would be invalidated by someone with more experience.
- Expertise I was OK with sharing because some external system had bestowed it. (Advanced degrees, fancy titles, work at impressive-sounding companies, etc.)
I found that if I turned down the dials on my personality and my experience, naturally that voice target got very, very small. It was really to hit that target.
And when I missed the target, which was easy to do since it was so tiny, the writing was uniformly lame.
I was boring and general. I couldn’t tell my stories because I was afraid to share my experience. I couldn’t tell my GOOD stories because I was hiding my personality.
So to develop my voice I had to take more risks with incorporating my personality and my experience, which was hard.
But if you’re wondering why your writing so often misses the mark or sounds boring and lame, check how low you have the dials set on sharing experience and personality in your writing.
Patriarchal white supremacy tells us that as womxn we are automatically less authoritative, which causes us to miniaturize and flatten our personalities.
It tells that the degrees and awards and fancy titles and promotions (the things that white people have the easiest access to) are the valuable things – and the path of our experience is not.
And we have to start standing up and saying no to all that.