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Finding Your Voice

instructional design - writingI find writing highly enjoyable. So recently, when given a list of topics to consider when writing this blog entry, I was a bit mystified that I felt wordless regarding most of them. And so it hit me: What inspires us to write? Or, what prevents us?

I gave this a lot of thought. When we encounter “writer’s block” as it is commonly known, is it because we don’t have any inspiration to generate ideas? Or is something internal or external clogging up our creative pipeline? Perhaps it’s both.

Writing is an important part of my life. Since I develop instructional design, good writing is important, it keeps the clients pleased and ensures my own job satisfaction. And when I’m in the groove, it’s good. But when I’m stuck, it’s really like the voice in my head is paralyzed on the tip of my tongue.

So I thought I would draw on some of the noble and great ones (writers, that is):

According to William Makepeace Thackeray, “There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.” I know that’s an old standby: just start writing and something good is bound to come of it. Begin in the middle, write what you know. This has worked for me numerous times.

James Michener relates, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Ah, revisions. Inevitably if I just begin to write, I need to tweak and fix. I think we have all experienced the delicate balance that ensues when our thoughts morph and refine as quickly as they materialize.

Sometimes I just need a break. I need to get up, take a walk, eat something, and then come back. Even Agatha Christie suggests, “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” I am much more creative when I let the ideas flow rather than forcing them out. Some of my best writing is the most spontaneous.

Finally, I think we must believe in ourselves and be willing to share a piece of who we are with the reader. This is the most intimate, vulnerable part of writing. There is always a bit of ourselves in our written words, whether we’re crafting a poem or scripting compliance training. I think Sylvia Plath said it best: “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

What inspires you?