Last week was unusual. On Tuesday I started to write but the backlog of ideas didn't click for me. I just didn't want to write about them. In fact, I didn't want to write about anything. For the first time in a very long time, I felt uninspired to write. I wasn't entirely sure why. Maybe I outdid myself. My post on Leadership and Values is hard to beat. I don't mean in terms of traffic and readers, but the personal attachment and love of the story crafted. Through last week I looked inward so I may identify the benefit I get from writing and also look at how I go from an idea to a post. It helped reestablish my motivation and the baseline, and encouraged me to keep on writing.
My current technique is pretty simple. I start with an idea on Tuesday and go no further than a good outline. That simmers until the next day where I review the outline and begin writing "stubs". Each outline transforms into a sentence that explains what I want to say, and another sentence that explains why it's important. Each morning after that I review, add and edit until I finally have a good understanding of what I'm trying to say. Usually this takes until Thursday or Friday. I realized that to understand myself and my "own" ideas, I need a minimum of 3 days.
I use this structure purely for the benefits it gives me in understanding an idea and how to present an idea. Whether it creates a better post is a secondary consequence and not an achievement. Working through the week and reviewing, re-reading, and editing helps clarify my ideas. It also teases out the hidden, passive ideas that sit in the back of my mind. Sometimes it also helps me understand that the idea isn't any good.
The final step is purely about presentation and sharing the idea. Through the weekend I read the post aloud as if I were presenting in front of a crowd. This puts the focus on what matters: the idea. I must clarify and simplify it as much as possible. Reading aloud gives an opportunity to recognize and remove superfluous words and awkward pauses. It also helps focus on the story being crafted.
The best companion to an idea is a true, genuine, and relevant story. This is, and always has been a challenge for me. If I cannot construct a story is the idea bad or am I still too unskilled? I always wonder whether am I capable of being a steward of great ideas.
As I try to find my voice, my way and my unique ability I've found that writing is my primary tool for discovery. Oddly, English and Literature were always my least favorite subjects. I never attended any further courses, and spent energy to avoid them. Now that I've read Strunk & White a few times, I feel I'm an even worse writer than before. The penalty of learning is the awareness of ineptitude. I may be more aware of my short-comings but now able to overcome them, if necessary. This has led me to wonder whether I need to be a good writer at all.
While writing may be the tool I use, I realized I don't need to be a good writer to succeed. I want to be a good story teller. I write not to find my voice. I write so that my voice may find me, and help me explore ideas and thoughts, original or not. My voice has always been there, stifled because I never deliberately practiced.