16 May, 2016

Finding Your Voice: 5 goals for overcoming self-doubt and blogging consistently

How many of us really know our own voice?

If you're a blogger, you'll probably agree that this was one of the biggest hurdles when you first decided to share your thoughts with the world. If you're an aspiring blogger who has not yet taken the plunge, this might be one of the things holding you back. If you allow it, it's so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt. What if I sound pretentious? What if I'm not as hilarious as my friends think I am? Oh god what if I'm boring?!

After the last Fozzel & Bean blog post, life took a serious turn. I like to call the journey of self-discovery that came next my "Yolo year". It's kinda like the twenty-something hipster version of Eat Pray Love. I threw out a tonne of possessions, changed my hair and clothes, quit my job and (temporarily) my degree, moved to the Gold Coast to share a questionably-hygienic apartment with at least 7 strangers, had a Summer stint as a nightclub photographer, met countless new and inspiring people from all over the globe, learned a million new things about myself, and damaged many liver and brain cells in the process (would not recommend). When the Yolo Year ended I tried to write again, but realised that I hadn't found my voice. In fact, I probably never had.

What follows is a series of Goals that I followed to find my own writing style, and to keep myself (and hopefully others too!) motivated for writing and blogging consistently.

5 Goals for Overcoming Self-Doubt in Blogging

1. Just write

Stream of consciousness writing is a technique used by fiction writers. When you're working on a novel or short story, it's easy to waste time fussing over the structure of one sentence or paragraph, losing sight of the big picture. On a smaller scale, blogging is the same. Stream of consciousness exercises are a great way to train your brain to express thoughts more freely. Sit down with your laptop or pen & paper, and let anything and everything that comes into your head flow onto the page. Forget grammar and punctuation. Forget whatever point you're trying to make or person you're trying to be. Just write. What is left might be complete crap, or it might contain something brilliant that inspires a future post. Either way, you are strengthening your writing voice.

2. Plan

With all the material from your writing exercises, you should have a list of things you're inspired to write about. Plan your posts out in draft form, adding pictures and other information as it comes to you, and keeping track of what needs to be done before the post is published (like finishing that damn coat!). Some weeks you might have plenty of inspiration and projects to share, while other weeks the real world requires your attention. Writing multiple drafts in advance means you're not wasting great ideas, and you still have content ready to be published during more quiet times.

3. Tell a story

An exercise from a creative writing class I took this semester: start really reflecting on the way you speak in person; the moments when you feel the most confident, and the moments where people around you are the most engaged. During this exercise I found that I love to tell stories that make people laugh. From the ongoing battle between my housemate and our resident spider, Huntsy, to the time I accidentally wore my squishy purple ug boots to work, when I'm telling my friends a story (even one where I completely embarrass myself) I speak with a confidence I never realised I had. Apply these discoveries to your writing and you'll have found your voice!

4. Never look back! 

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, read over your old blog posts when you are in a self-doubting mood. All you will find is a myriad of mistakes, lame jokes and general shame and embarrassment that will eat away at your confidence until your next post goes from draft to recycle bin. Focus on each new post, and your writing will get better and better with time!

5. Have fun being you! 

If there's one thing I learned during my Yolo Year, it's that no matter how weird or crazy you are, there will always be someone who gets it (or at least finds it endearing to watch). In this social media driven world where almost everything is public, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is perfect. Spend a moment thinking about your favourite people, both in daily life and in the blogging world, however, and you'll probably find that the most refreshing people are the ones who are genuine. And life is so much more fun when you're spending time with people who know and love the real you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you're an avid blogger, how did you find your writing voice? If not, what struggles are you facing right now when it comes to blogging consistently? Let me know in the comments :)

PS: If you're still following Fozzel & Bean from back in 2014, I literally love you! What have I missed?!?!

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