Finding Your Voice

In order to find your voice, you have to use your voice.

Many years ago, when I was single, I occasionally went on dates. I remember sitting in a diner with a nice man who’d asked me out for coffee. It was so long ago I can’t remember what he said. I do remember I disagreed with him—in my head. I never said anything out loud. In that moment I knew I wouldn’t go out with him again. If I didn’t care enough to express my opinion, to show him the real me, it wasn’t going to work.

When I went out with my husband, I was full of stories and opinions from the very first lift ride. Our first “date” was a daytrip to go snowboarding with my sister. See how I care enough to tell you that?

I have struggled to find my voice as a writer. I don’t think I really started to find it until I started blogging. It takes courage to put your opinion out into the world, because someone might (will!) disagree with you. But that’s an opportunity to clarify your voice, to refine your thoughts about whatever you are discussing.

I’m normally a reserved person around people I don’t know and my medical training also made me very reticent. There were a lot of unwritten rules I absorbed as a physician about not expressing myself. It’s taken a lot of thought work to get over that and there’s still a lot that I don’t share.

But the older I get, the more I want to be known as my true self. I want to express my true thoughts and to hear what other people really think, in my writing and in my life.

So I’m expressing more opinions and having more discussions with people who disagree with me.

I’m finding my voice.

What has helped you find your voice?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, family physician, mother, and stepmother. I’m finding my voice partly through the discussions we have here in the comment section of this blog.

 

 

79 thoughts on “Finding Your Voice

  1. Self-editing can become intrinsic to who we are; sometimes because of professionalism or because some things are too hard to say aloud. I too am finding that blogging is a way to learn what my voice has to say. I am fortunate in that my kind of work means showing my personality is a good thing; it helps to build relationships and to get my point across. But there is a lot of who I am that I can’t share; because being strong and detached is also part of who I need to be at work. My blog is a journey to finding out who I am, and this often means stopping off at unexpected places. My blog doesn’t have an indentifiable “brand”, as such – it’s a very eclectic mix. But I have noticed in my writing that there is a voice emerging, and it does feel like me, and I sometimes I am surprised by who I am. I didn’t know I had so many Haiku in me about birds for one thing!! But I did know that I prefer to avoid stating the obvious, and keeping an eye on the word count in blogging helps with that.

    • Hi weebluebirdie,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments and for reading! I agree, blogging has really helped me find my voice. I decided early on to keep my blog post < 500 words and that has really helped me cut out extraneous thoughts. Recently, I've noticed my posts are getting even shorter. I find I want to try to make one point and be done with it. That's part of my voice, too, I think.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  2. I feel like I’ve always had a voice inside me. From when I can remember I’ve been writing and talking to myself. I know it’s hard for some people but I find if you sit in silence with no distraction and listen to your voice it eventually comes out. Nice post. 🙂

    • Hi Chrissy,
      I agree, I’ve always had a voice inside me. I remember sitting on our front steps one summer morning when I was 9 and thinking about how old I would be when it was the year 2000 and how far away it was!

      Getting that voice on the page, or creating a voice for a piece of fiction that I can sustain, is what I find difficult. But, yes! sitting in silence is a great way to hear that voice.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi T. Wharton Johnson,
      Hearing the voice is definitely the hard part. I, too, think it’s always there.. I hoping blogging helps you find your voice more as it did for me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for starting your blog! Your voice is unique and we need to hear it!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  3. I like to pay attention to my inner voice so, when i am alone, I respond to it out loud. i have actual conversations with my inner me. It’s amazing how much you can learn about yourself that way.

    • Hi Naomi,
      I don’t often have conversations out loud with myself, but I do sometimes write out a dialogue between me and myself. I’m always surprised at what comes of those dialogues. Very enlightening! Thanks for the tip and for reading and commenting.

      Warmly,
      Diane

  4. I’ve been freelance writing for years and blogging for about 18 months. Along the way of doing that I’ve realized I get the reaction from my writing when I’ve bared a bit more of of my soul, or written more personal things. This is teaching me that people relate the most to our words when we are honest in our writing. I think being honest about what you think and feel is what finding your voice is all about, at least in non-fiction. As for fiction, I would assume it goes the same way; listening to your gut about the story you want to write and then creating characters that are honest and faulted in the same ways we are. Great post!

    • I agree all the way with this. I, too write from the heart and I don’t let judgment of others to sidetrack me from my goals. I’m open for discussion and will always respect others opinions but I always keep my core intact. I rather risk losing readership than losing my own voice.

      • Hi impossiblebebong,
        I find myself hesitating at times, afraid to post because of what people will think. Usually I post anyway, and the response is usually much more positive than I thought it would be. Every time I do this it becomes a little easier.

        Thanks for sharing your path with us!

        Warmly,
        Diane

      • How people perceive us doesn’t reflect who we are so, I say post away. No matter what you do, people will have something to say anyway. I find it’s their problem. Besides, there is always a choice: to read or not to read 🙂

    • I agree; I too have discovered that personal, honest writing is what attracts readers — just as it attracts me, actually. In my crone years, I’ve not only begun to discover my voice, but I’m learning that I WANT to speak my truths. It’s an exciting journey!

      • Hi Susannah,
        Yes! I agree! And the journey IS exciting! Thanks for reading and commenting!

        Warmly,
        Diane

    • Hi thewritertraccy,
      I totally agree! Nothing to add, you said it all! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  5. I admit I likely would have mimicked your behavior on that date in the diner. If you knew it was going nowhere, no need to rock the boat, right?… I sometimes find that when I am in a group conversation, I say little — and don’t even realize it. I often am responding in my head and feel completely engaged, when in reality I haven’t said a word. I do find it easier to express myself in writing — maybe because I can refine it before I spill all my self-truths and opinions to the world or maybe because post writing is such a reflective activity in itself. Like thewritertracy said, the more I bare my soul, the more people seem to relate. The more fearful I am to actual push “publish,” the more powerful my voice, it seems (but it is definitely still scary). Enjoyed the reflective post! 🙂

    • Hi sarahas5,
      I find if I’m expressing myself in my head I get bored, because I already know my own opinions, so I just move on–to another conversation. That doesn’t really happen to me much any more, but I do remember thinking it was a waste of my time back in my dating days.

      I agree, publishing our thoughts and opinions is still scary. But practice makes it a little less scary every time!

      Thanks for your comments and for reading!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  6. Thank you for this post! I’m inspired and can related deeply. Even to the dating story. I knew I had to voice my opinions and preferences early on a date to sort out or scare aware potential suitors 🙂 It worked. I recently changed my business tag line to this: Helping Leaders Find Their Voice, Take Action, and Get Results – One Letter at a Time! Not being a writer (and admiring and loving their words) I have struggled my whole life to find a way to burst out of shyness by finding my voice. Ironically, now (50+ years later) the thing I love to do most is speak, teach, and coach.

    • Hi Star Leadership,
      You are welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Sounds like you’ve found your voice!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  7. Anne Lamott. Her writing advice in Bird by Bird as well as her cranky, but funny style in books on faith, parenting, etc., have made me think and literally opened mental doors that had been locked all my life. It’s amazing she has this impact, but then again, it’s Anne Lamott.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Amme Lamott! She’s the best! I love all of her books, but I read Bird by Bird at least once a year. I used to title every piece of writing “You-Know-What First Draft” before I started, to help take the pressure off.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  8. I would agree that when I began blogging last year in September, that was when I started to discover my voice. The other day, I looked at my very first post on here and compared it to my latest post. The difference is remarkable. When I started blogging, my confidence was minimal. It was the first time I had shown my writing to anyone, and offered it up for potential criticism. At first it was very scary, but now that I think I have found a footing, I definitely have little to no worry about posting a new piece of writing today.

    • Hi Francesca Smith,
      That’s so wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your progress as a blogger. I definitely am not as scared to hit “publish” these days, but I still have the occasional post that feels scary to put out there. I keep doing it and it keeps getting a little easier!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi lbeth1950,
      Amen! I’m on that same path! My goal is to give other people permission to think whatever they want about it–it’s none of my business. I don’t always manage it, but I’m able to do it more and more these days.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,

      Diane

  9. I rather scare potentials suitors away by showing who I really am right from the start so, they have time to back away. If they decided to stick around anyway, they cannot say to me afterwards “If I only know…” they have been forewarned.

    • Hi again, impossiblebebong,
      Better they know who you are right from the beginning, right? I agree.

      Best wishes!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  10. Let’s see, Hi Diane, I believe there are so many personal variables for anyone trying to find their voice. Everyone is gifted, the only difference being is we all open our presents at different times. Personally, the problem wasn’t finding my voice, but having the courage to think that what I said mattered. Then, in 2011, life as I knew it changed after I fractured my neck and broke my back in 6 places. I have had 8 surgeries in two and a half years and have had to learn how to do most everything all over again. It’s a very humbling experience. The worst part was I made my living with my legs and arms. I was a full-time mailman and I was also a dancer/performer/choreographer by night. One of several good things that came from that experience is; Not only do I appreciate my voice, but I am no longer worried if anyone agrees with me. Everyone has an opinion and I totally respect that. Life would be so boring if we all agreed on the same things.And yes, sometimes criticism can be a great teacher. I am in the process of starting my life all over again, but this time the world is going to hear me roar! Best Regards
    Jim

    • Hi Jim,
      Thank you so much for sharing part of your journey with us. I can just bet you don’t worry about people agreeing with you anymore. I know when my dad and uncle were both critically ill I learned very quickly not to worry what other people thought about me as I made sure they got the care they needed. It really put things in perspective for me.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Warmly,
      Diane

  11. I found my voice through the pain. When I wrote and held nothing back, and then I look back at the work to see what came through during my momentary insanity.
    I am too reserved, in that I am cautious in sharing my work. Even though, I have a blog I am still getting used to the idea of putting my thoughts out there for the world to see.
    But I am happy that you have realized how important it is for your voice to be heard, loud and clear.
    It normally means a whole lot for persons not used to voicing their many thoughts.
    I appreciate your work, thanks.

    cilane.

    • Hi cilane,
      Thanks so much for your thoughts and your comments. I really appreciate your words.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  12. I found my voice through continued attempts at fanfic. When I was telling the story with comfortable characters I could find, in me, the voice I wanted to write in. It felt good and gave me the ability to step out and create my own worlds.

    • Hi LJ Fleming,
      I just recently had the thought, “Maybe I should try fan fiction.” I think that would be a great way to “practice” finding my voice with familiar characters. Thanks for the thought and thanks for commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  13. I too find myself disagreeing with what people say, or having an opinion of my own that I never voice, often because the other voices are louder and more dominant than my own. I’ve gotten used to not saying anything and therefore not being listened to.

    I find it much easier to communicate through writing than in person because it gives me time to sort through what I actually want to say. Like you, I’m finding my voice, and lately I’ve been liking it a lot more than just sitting silent.

    Great post!

    • Hi starlightdaydreamer,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Until I posted this blog post, I thought I was the only one who felt this way.

      I’m definitely speaking up more in person and in my writing these days and it feels really good.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  14. I also find my voice through emotional pain and through my writings, I create a map of progress for myself and once I’m able to express myself through words, I feel a bit at peace. Nice piece.

    • Hi rythaephua,
      Thanks for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it. I find a little bit of peace, too, once I write out my thoughts and organize them. Posting my thoughts and hearing supportive words is a wonderful bonus, although I’m also open to constructive criticism (which I thought would be harder to deal with than it really is.)

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  15. Finding our voices is as important as finding the right time to use them. Writing is always a good start. Good luck in the future!

  16. I also find that blogging has been an excellent way to find my voice. I’m in my fifth month, and the words come so much easier than they did even a few weeks ago. I think the fact that I have to keep putting things out there on a consistent basis if I want people to continue to read the blog is important too. I don’t have loads of time to second guess myself, I just have to put it out there and let it float. I can see the difference also in my fiction, which I have just picked back up. The drafting process is much easier than it has ever been because I have this habit of blogging.

    • Hi koehlerjoni,
      Thanks for your comments and for reading. It’s inspiring to read how blogging has improved your process with fiction writing.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  17. This post hit home for me. I was just having this same thoughts. I was wondering how to go about finding my writer’s voice. I started blogging silently hoping it would help me figure it out. I’m learning that the more I write, the more my personality wants to be known. Thanks for this post. 🙂

  18. I loved your bog. It was honest and I found it to be relatable and encouraging. I started to blog because I felt that it would help me find and express myself, and also relate to others like me along the way. I agree with the fact that it’s a struggle allowing others into your thoughts and inviting criticism. Voicing our opinions and sharing our stories is a great step to developing and revealing ourselves. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi desina gjeka,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. Sounds like we have some of the same reasons for blogging. So far it’s been a very positive journey for me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  19. Reblogged this on Shit Happens and commented:
    This is such a great post – being able to say what you really want to say, and express an opinion in the real world takes courage. I find this post inspiring and have embraced blogging for the very reasons set out here.
    To find my voice and introduce the real me!

    • Hi Mj,
      Thanks so much for your comments and for reblogging! So many of us, it seems, have similar reasons for blogging. Isn’t it great that we live in an age when it is possible?

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi wysjoyfulcompany,
      Thanks for reading and commenting! And best wishes for your new chapter as a Radio Blogtalk host.

      Warmly,
      Diane

  20. The thing that has helped me find my voice is “inner work”. I have done alot of soul research. Digging through my dreams, journaling, paying attention to my responses to things – it really has helped me see the beauty of all that I am. Sometimes we are moody, sometimes we are happy, sometimes we want to be sensual – we are all of that and then some. I think the recognition of how much beauty you have inside can help you find your voice. I was confused for a long time because I loved to write, but always felt very insecure about sharing what I had to say with the world. As if I didn’t have a place in this space or something. It was only when I realized how much depth and soul that I really had – that my writing started to flourish and I started to find my own voice. I am still growing, learning, and developing, but I know I am going in the right direction. So inner work helps alot. Soul Research – I call it.

    Renee

    • Hi Renee,
      Thanks for your beautiful comments! I totally agree, I am developing my voice because I am looking inward so much more than I used to.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi ughkwardgirl,
      I’m so glad you can relate to my blog. Yes, find your voice! It’s a job for all of us, I believe.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  21. I found my voice through much introspection about my life’s experiences. I do mean everything…what I see, what I’ve read, what I hear, etc. Then through constant self examination, I attempt to find out how these apply to me and proceed to formulate my thoughts from there.

    • Hi thejoshuagenerationministries,
      Thanks for your comments and for reading. It’s always interesting to read about the different ways we all process our experiences.

      Warmly,
      Diane

  22. Interesting post. Like you, the older I get, the more my true voice wants to be heard. When I was a young writer (probably from the age of 11 up) I used flowery, verbose language which really wasn’t my own. And now I’m forty…*cough-cough-splutter*…something, I feel I need to use the words floating around my head in order to be heard. Before my writing was flat and, very probably, pretentious because there wasn’t any ‘me’ in it. Now, it (hopefully) has come to life and those that know me can probably hear me in it. That’s the plan, anyway!

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