Want to Know the Real Reason
Why You Write?

Why Write?

What is it that makes you want to slave over an article or a blog post, to get your point across and to have other people read your words? What is it that makes you – or any of us for that matter – want to write?

I got to thinking about it when a commenter on a previous post said that most people would love to write because there’s some kind of natural pull towards writing. I was also intrigued when I saw that established and well known bloggers Holly Hoffman and Jamie Harrop both started up brand new blogs last week, with subjects close to their hearts.

Why?

Because their old blog was no longer a complete fit with what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it.

By blogging and writing for some time, they both found their “thing” – the thing that they get the most pleasure from writing about and the thing that they really connect with. Through the act of writing they found what they really wanted to write about.

There’s an amazing line from the movie “Lady in the Water”, by M. Night Shyamalan. In this standout scene, the mesmerizing Bryce Dallas Howard softly asks Paul Giamatti:

May I say one thing?

The moment a person finds their voice…is the moment their life takes on grace.

That line is something I’ll always remember, for one simple reason.

Finding your voice is not optional if you want to live a rich, confident life and if you want to be a great writer.

Grace is simplicity, effortlessness and congruity

Think about it for a moment. What are you speaking with before you find your voice? What are you saying and what message are you delivering? And just who are you being before you find your voice?

Before that happens your writing will be more constructed, abstracted, intellectualized. It’ll probably feel more of a struggle to get the words onto the page for the simple reason that you’re missing something fundamental.

You.

Both Holly and Jamie mentioned this very thing when explaining their need to start a new blog – that they needed to write about what they really wanted to write about, and to get a better fit by moving away from the constraints of their previous blog.

Perhaps you’re experiencing something similar

If so, things might not feel like they fit. Your life might be full of clutter and you might feel like you’re searching for something, drifting through with no real plan or agenda. You might feel, in those quiet moments, that something’s missing.

You’ll be living and working, but you’ll also be dying a slow, safe death.

And all because you haven’t found your voice; the voice that gives you elegance, ease, a sense of wholeness and a message that matters to you.

It’s that voice that gives you the confidence to do things your way, follow what matters and relax into yourself and your writing.

And I think that’s it; that’s why we all want to write – to be able to talk with our real voice and for that voice to be heard. You write so that your voice can become bigger than just one person.

So get writing.

About the Author: As a leading confidence coach with clients right around the world, Steve Errey has a reputation for talking sense and getting results. Get more from him at The Confidence Guy.

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Comments

  1. I think you are on to something there :) In fact, it seems genetic … my daughter has taken to writing stories, poems, songs on scraps of paper …

  2. This really speaks to me as it’s a struggle I went through with on my blog. Luckily for me, I don’t really have a ton of readers yet so it has been easy enough to say I’m just going to write what I want to write without worrying about disappointing or alienating a ton of people.

    My voice is what makes me stand out, it would be beyond stupid to try and stifle that to fit what I think people want.

  3. That really is a wonderful line (from a not so wonderful movie). Being able to consistently articulate myself on the page has completely reframed my confidence. It didn’t heighten it exactly, but it did shift it… gave it grace, I suppose it’s fair to say.

  4. Expression gives us a reflection of our identity, allowing us to “read” or “see” what we really are. It makes sense, really.

  5. Interesting suggestion … I’ll have to think about that one.

  6. Finding your voice enables you to write effortlessly. Surprisingly, even your readers can feel, and they enjoy your writing more. This is the reason why some blogs begin to feel soulless even after a stellar start; the blogger loses the voice. I have gone through that.

  7. I started my blog because it is something that is close to my heart now, since I love to write. However, I also have plans to have new blogs once I have established this one.

  8. Great post. You really made me wonder whether I have really found the voice.

  9. I think people write because it’s human nature to want to connect, to be heard, to be acknowledged, to feel like they deserve to be living. Writing is one creative form of communication. So is growing food and selling it at a farmers’ market. People who buy your food acknowledge your contribution to humanity. People who comment on your blog do the same.

    People write to be a part of human creativity and culture.

    Peace.

  10. The more I write, the closer I get to that voice.

  11. I teach a writing retreat in Taos every year and the workshop that always gets the most aha’s is Writing Naked – which is not about writing porn but rather about this very thing… finding the ways you can settle in, trust, listen for, lean into that which is most true for you in any given moment and write from there, write about that.

    It’s scary for lots of people and rightfully so but to not go there is to be cut off from inspiration and growth and verve and a reason to go the computer or even get up in the morning.

    I also think it is what readers are so hungry for. In this endlessly hyped world, what rings true feeds us and we treasure the writing, and the person, for gifting us that.

    Okay, back to writing naked (with lots of clothes on this cold first day of spring).

  12. This post is SO true. I am a Realtor and started a real estate blog last year. I have not kept up with it, because I don’t have anything cheerful to write about the market. In the meantime, I have started a blog for my creative, crafty projects and I am seriously OBSESSED with posting. I think I’ve found my true voice! :)

  13. Said with true grace. I’ve always had a voice, but I still don’t know for what purpose it was given. Hopefully, I will know soon.

  14. I write because I enjoy the craft. Perhaps it is similar to why people paint.

    I love the creation process and I love the craft.

  15. I’m not entirely convinced that finding my voice made my writing “effortless”.

    For years, I struggled to find my own unique voice as a writer. Eventually, I realized that I’m basically a smart aleck, so that’s what I write.

    Sometimes the writing comes as easily as gliding down a snow-covered slope; sometimes it’s like climbing a mountain of ice. Finding my voice didn’t make the writing easier, it just made it worth the effort.

  16. I agree, I think it’s the process of letting your mind flow through words… I often think that words ARE my art; the way they flow and the tone of how they sound together. I don’t have any actual artistic skills, except those that come out of me via letters, symbols, phrases, words…

  17. What a lovely piece to contemplate! Coincidentally, just last night I took a stab at writing a short story for children. It started with just one thought and then uncontrollably gushed out. Within one hour I had a full draft. I thought to myself, wow this was fun and so, so ‘me’! Perhaps I have just found my voice — yep, ‘grace’ is what it felt like!

  18. You write because it is a compulsion. You write because you need to be sure about what your inner voice is actually saying. You write because you need to light a torch and carry it through the caverns of your mind. You write because nothing else matters.

  19. Impactful piece, Steve!

    I fell in love with writing in the first grade. I especially loved learning grammar – spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. Forget math! Too black and white, too many definitives.

    Needing to write ranks right up there with needing oxygen!

    Writing is a fabulous medium, a venue for total and free expression. You get to use your “noodle”, be creative, have fun, and just be You.

    For me, writing is pure Passion.

  20. I’m a very analytical person, so I tend to write about things which require quite a bit of analysis–for me that is who I am.

    But there’s still a difference between writing about some things and others. The ones that are easiest are the ones which I’ve already thought about a lot, or where there’s a particular point standing out which I’m keen to get across (as when writing a blog comment, for example!)

    Often I’ll want to write something, have it all laid out in my head, but maybe not get it down because I haven’t time–and then when I come back to it later, it’s much more difficult to write because the urgency has gone. I think the urgency is what gives clarity to my thoughts: there’s one main point I want to get across, and a number of background ideas in my mind which will be set down when the appropriate moment comes. They’re lined up as it were, waiting to be used.

    Other times, it’s difficult because there are too many things I want so say and I can’t see where to start, or because I’ve not yet clarified my thoughts.

    I think there might be an analogy with musical performance, too: the most effortless playing comes from years of practising in order to have the resources at your fingertips, or from weeks of learning the ins and outs of a particular piece.

    So I don’t think ease and struggle are necessarily opposed–I think they might be two sides of the same coin.

    This has almost become a post in itself–apologies! But those are my thoughts.

  21. I’m still learning the ropes of blogging and this was very helpful. Thank you! :)

  22. Thanks for a thought provoking article. As an established author of many years standing (or sitting?) I agree with Kevin who said, “Finding my voice didn’t make the writing easier, it just made it worth the effort.” I write because not to write is painful. But WHAT I write is driven by a passion to make this world, and the individuals who live in it, a better place to be – not only for my readers, but also for the charities supported by sales of my books, and fees when I’m speaking. And that’s MY voice!

  23. Love how you say we write so “your voice can become bigger than just one person.” That’s something I know I’ll carry with me and chew on a long time. Thank you for that!

  24. Thanks for a thought provoking article. I write because not to write is painful. But WHAT I write is key. As an established author of many years standing (sitting? :-) I only recently discovered that what has driven every book and article I’ve ever written, is a passion to skew my readers thinking in (if necessary) to make life a better experience for them. And not only my readers – but also the charities supported by sales of my books and fees from speaking engagements. That drive is MY voice!

  25. Thanks for raising this topic, Steve, because it wonderfully highlights the writer’s evolution. And I love so many of the comments from folks posting before me – and identify with so many of them.

    Learning to communicate has thus been a life-long struggle and pleasure for me as I moved from being tongue- and pen-tied to finding the words flowing more freely. Writing, especially, has been a buried treasure that I’ve delighted in finding. And Michael — I agree with you 100% that the more I write the more I find my voice.

  26. steve, if it was possible, i would stand up and bow to you in respect and, at the same time, clap for you with head held high in celebration.
    :)
    thank you.

  27. Good point. That probably is also why so many people say that one shouldn’t start a blog/website in a niche that they care nothing about.

  28. I really enjoy reading the post as well as the comments.I find them interesting and provoking at the same time.Finding my voice and being moved and guided by it is something very important for me.I couldn’t possibly write something I care nothing about.Being congruent with what I feel and manifesting it through writing is what I like most

  29. And I think that’s it; that’s why we all want to write – to be able to talk with our real voice and for that voice to be heard. You write so that your voice can become bigger than just one person.

    Beautifully written. I think you nailed it. We write to be heard, so we can see what happens when our voice becomes something tangible, something that can change lives even.

    I also write because the alternative is not writing, and with that comes the ache of having unexpressed ideas that I *want* to see become more tangible…that ache is painful for any writer! So, I also write to avoid the regret of not writing.

  30. I’m so glad I found my “thing.” I’m very happy………………:)

  31. What an awesome quote. It explains a lot about my last year. And your post explains why I can struggle over contracted writing work all day and feel restored by giving free reign to my voice when I blog at night.
    Great post!

  32. Shorter, but you hit a sweet spot. Nice work, Steve! P. :)

  33. Great article, speaks volumes about being genuine and trues to the soul of writing. It makes sense, people forget about passion, creativity and true expression while spending too much on readership, focus on the art of writing that is true to you, find the audience later. Check this out, do you think Miles Davis would have cared what the audience thought? He was true to his art, too many writers/bloggers care more about tricky ways to get better seo results versus putting down some true value and work, let’s stay true to producing good services and content.

  34. Thank you for a thought-inspiring article. Now, if I could only get myself motivated to sit down and just write….

  35. I write because I like to interact with people sharing my views and ideas. I find it very interesting sharing information through my blog. I try to explain everything in a simple way to readers so everyone can understand and apply it.

  36. Speaking of “elegant writing,” this was a wonderful example. Like so many of us who try desperately to keep up with the social networking world, I frequently feel overwhelmed. But I came across this post in twitter and found myself compelled to read every word. Now, that is good writing! Here is the line I shall copy and paste into something so that I read it again and again: It’s that voice that gives you the confidence to do things your way, follow what matters and relax into yourself and your writing.

    Thank you!

  37. Here’s a handful of responses, but thanks to EVERYONE for your comments.

    @Chris Garrett: The genetic angle is fascinating. When you consider the origins of language and communication I’m sure there is something genetic about it. And there’s nothing like a childs imagination!

    @Tracy: The moment you start worrying about pleasing people if the moment your voice becomes diluted – sounds like you’re doing great to me!

    @Writer Dad: Real confidence IS grace. And I kinda like the movie in a strange sort of way :P

    @Heidi: Don’t think too much before doing something.

    @John: Simple question then – what matters enough to you and what have you lived that you’d love to talk about?

    @Daniel: Interesting thought, perhaps any kind of contribution to something bigger than yourself comes from that same place of grace and congruity.

    @Jennifer: Hey, if you wanna write naked I’m not gonna stop you. Seriously though, that’s where the self-trust comes in – the ability to trust yourself to find what ‘rings true’ is really something special. Love your site too!

    @Kim: Doesn’t always have to be cheerful – it’s what feels true for you.

    @lafishman: Who said you need to know the purpose behind your voice? Isn’t knowing it and listening to it enough?

    @Kevin: Nice distinction. Finding your voice puts what you do in context and makes it matter to you, that doesn’t automatically make it easier.

    @Cleo: Keep on going!

    @Tim J: It’s tough for the analytically minded to let themselves get to a place where they don’t need to organise things before starting something creative. I agree that sometimes you have to put the hard work in to become ‘graceful’ at something – but I don’t believe that means it has to be a struggle. It’s a process of learning, that’s all.

    @Mel Menzies: Got it – you write so that you can positively impact other people through your words. Do you think there’s a line between putting your work out there and actually having the intention to ‘skew’ your readers thinking?

    @Kathy: Thanks for posting – for people who find it hard to communicate I guess writing can be a really powerful way to connect and to learn.

    Biren: Dont’ let me stop you ;D

    @Melissa: The regret of not saying what’s important to you – crikey. Is there anything more heartbreaking?

    @LisaNewton: Round of applause :D

    @Bobbi Linkemer: Really glad you liked it. Hit me up on Twitter!

  38. I found there is lot of solace in writing and it’s one of the best ways to get a high about life and living. After writing a post, I feel I’ve become little more refined. Imagine all those who write books; and How happy they would feel?
    Solomon

  39. I think that for me part of the point about communicating by writing – as opposed to speech – is that I can take as long as I like developing and clarifying the ideas and expressing them just how I intend. It not only clarifies the ideas but also gives the satisfaction of expressing them more accurately. And thoughts which are written down can go further, because everything’s there for reference. Greater depth is possible. I like that.

  40. I really like this post. Very thoughtful and inspiring. Thank you. =)

  41. I’ve been wondering why, since starting my blog over a year ago on a topic I thought I wanted to write about, I never really managed to write on a regular basis. This article has confirmed my suspicions – my topic really wasn’t inspiring me any more & it was time to change. Funny that I’ve come across this article now – just as I am in the process of changing the look and direction of my blog.
    Thankyou for helping me get that one step closer to finding my voice :)

  42. Grace. Such a beautiful word.

    I think that in every profession, every job, every endeavor, grace is what we’re after. The repose after effort. The breathing after exertion. The rightnness of our expression, whatever form it takes.

    Thank you!

  43. Interesting post!
    Steve I read this post about life purpose on ur blog and wanted to ask a combined question…..
    ‘Being Me’ and ‘finding your voice’
    what if it’s about ‘Being your voice’?..is there any difference?

  44. Beautiful message! And, I think that once a person finds their voice in writing they will also find that they attract people that love their writing and / or their message. I believe voice naturally attracts audience.

    When I originally started blogging my topic in 2005 my topic was not nearly as focused as it is now and the only thing that keeps me from posting is being busy with coaching. I have a running list of topics all the time that I can’t keep up with.

  45. Love this post, it really explains everything so succinctly. I have decided recently to give up a blog that I no longer feel passionate about and I just feel so much lighter.

  46. I like coding, experimenting with new technologies and sharing my experiments- thus sharing what I have learnt with others

  47. Must be something in the air. I just closed my Blogger blog last week. Hated the way it was going. Went back to my little WordPress blog with no ads, no bells, few whistles. I decided that I’m just going to write about what I want and not worry about keyword optimization, journaling, mixing biz with personal. You know, all the things the “experts” tell us to do or not do.

  48. The voice of a blog is very key to it’s success. It’s one thing to spew out information, it’s another to put your own spin on it! That being said, there are a variety of different voices that can be used on any particular topic – AND each person has different voices that they use on topics near and dear to their heart. I write on a variety of topics, to a variety of audiences, and have different voices for each!

  49. True, I want nothing more than to find my true voice. It seems elusive.

  50. Creativity and writing have been knocking on my door for awhile now….so much so that I just feel it is what I am called to do. I even started a program for other creatives just because I am feeling it so much.

  51. GoEverywhereTeam – I’ve just posted a blog on different ‘voices’ or styles of blog titled: Six Blogging Syles, Which Approach Turns You On. Years ago I was sent, as a delegate, to MAP – the Media Awareness Project. There I learned that a single news item may be treated quite differently depending upon the paper you’re reading: sensationally in The Sun; factually in The Times; politically slanted in The Daily Mail – and so on. Same topic. Different voice. For newspaper substitute blog. Same principle applies.

  52. Not trying to get too ‘zen’ on you folks here, but a journalist friend of mine (having studied art history and writing herself) used to always pull out that famous quote “Writers write to know they are not alone in the world”.

  53. With 2 books on writing, a blog, a daily writing instruction service, and rewrites and revisions to many clients’ text, I seem to be the type of person who loves to write. While this is true, it is not the only reason. I write because I have something I am passionate about sharing and I desire reader’s to respond in some way. In this way, writing is my form of symbiosis.

  54. It is relieving when you realise that your voice is actually matters and writing is the tool to speak up freely.

    Ah.. I love your article !

  55. Hi Steve – A lot of bloggers seem to go through this. When I first began blogging, I only wrote about business.

    But after a while, I actually began to change myself. For a start, I realized that you couldn’t be successful in business, if you didn’t allow yourself to have a life. So I started writing about business and life.

    Now, I didn’t know that Jamie had started a new blog. I guess I’d better check it out.

  56. This is now on my wall, to look at and read every day. Thanks!

  57. @Solomon: Interesting – I think there is something that writing does that reinforces what you write about. If you write about what matters, what matters becomes more real for you.

    @Tim J: Yeah, how many times have I stepped away from a conversation and thought “Damn it, I didn’t mean that, what I really meant to say was this…”

    @The Monologue Blogger: Why thank you.

    @Helena Denley: All too often people write about what they think they should write about, and figuring that out is one of the most important evolutions I think a writer can make.

    @Lisa Gates: Grace is probably my favourite word – just beautiful.

    @Ketan: Great question. I think the difference is a subtle, but important one. It’s one thing to know and understand your voice, it’s another to apply it. It’s when your voice is able to get out there in the world that the magic happens – and that’s why I’m a confidence coach ;D

    @Melody Campbell: Exactly – people recognise that authenticity. I call it magic – being able to create a moment of truth by something you do or say.

    @Christie: Thanks for the thoughts, and glad that lightness is there for you.

    @John Samuel: Great – it doesn’t have to be all worthy and preachy and schmaltzy – sharing what you enjoy is what it’s about.

    @Sue: I wonder how many other disillusioned bloggers there are out there? Some of the SEO stuff is fine, but without the starting point of being excited and engaged you’ve got nothing.

    @GoEverywhere: How do you find those voices coming together, or don’t you? You’re right I think, there’s a certain amount of understanding your audience that needs to happen, but that shouldn’t come before saying what you want to say.

    @David: Keep writing and I have no doubt you’ll find something.

    @Andrea: Sounds like you’re on fire!

    @Mel: Thanks for your input and exactly right. I just wonder how those different voices co-exist on one blog…:P

    @JM Dupont: You know, I had no idea that quote existed – thank you! Any idea who said it?

    @David Bowman: Yep, it just makes sense sometimes doesn’t it?

    @Patsy: Your voice just has to matter to you – that’s the place to start. Thank you.

    @Cath Lawson: You’re one of my favourite bloggers, so pleased to hear you agree :D

    @Pattycam: Wow – I have wall-space. Thanks!

  58. My best writing come from what I feel passionate about and I can feel my own voice coming out in what I am writing. Aspects I have no opinion on or don’t feel passionate about takes research and time to find a voice to be able to portray this in a way that people will find interesting. I think what you have written makes sense in many aspects, great post!

  59. Interesting suggestion … I’ll have to think about that one.

  60. This is exactly why I started blogging, to find my voice. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone and I’m on the right track!

  61. We write with our voices. Sometimes it is very emotional and sometimes it is even more than just reading books. That`s why we have audiobooks now.