I’m a little embarrassed to write about being unique.
As a concept, I understand we’re all unique.
Each of our lives is different.
So, logically, when we create a business around our own experiences, skills, and values, our business becomes unique. And in the same way, when we share our ideas and tips, based on our own experiences, our blogs become unique, too.
But in practice, I have this sneaky feeling that nothing I’ve done is unique.
Uniqueness feels like something only true heroes can achieve
Which musicians do you admire?
Whether you’re a fan of David Bowie or Elvis Presley, of Yo-Yo Ma or John Coltrane, our heroes have reached that epitome of a unique and recognizable style.
It’s the same with writers we admire. There’s only one Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Only one Agatha Christie. Only one Ian McEwan.
Uniqueness feels like a goal out of reach. A level of specialness that mere mortals like you and I won’t achieve.
Nothing I share or write feels unique. I’m not that special.
Do you feel the same?
I might not have reached that elusive hero-like uniqueness, but I somehow have managed to escape from sounding exactly like everyone else.
Want to do the same?
As a marketer, I learned how to plan for uniqueness. Evaluate the market, review the competition, hold focus groups, commission customer research, and find a unique positioning in the market.
But as a blogger, a creative, a solo flyer, you can’t plan for everything. Your vision evolves. Your voice develops. Your uniqueness arrives by doing the work and finding what sticks.
Writing about self-doubt and my inner critic? It wasn’t in my plans. Blogging about voice? Three years ago, I hardly understood what a writing voice was. Using metaphors? I simply tried writing about myself without writing about myself.
Trying to plan everything stops you from doing the work. Instead, aim to make a valuable contribution to your readers and clients.
You discover your uniqueness when you learn which clients you hate working with and which clients energize you, when you realize which projects make you feel most alive. Your voice appears in conversation with your readers, when you learn whom you love writing for and which topics resonates most.
The goal of developing an authentic voice isn’t self-gratification, it’s cultivating a greater ability to mobilize others toward a goal or objective, and in so doing achieve the impact you desire. ~ Todd Henry
Stop trying to conform
At the end of my corporate career, I was the only woman in a male team. The only non-Brit. The only marketer in a team of number-crunchers.
Trying to fit into that team became an exhausting endeavor. I desperately tried exceeding other people’s expectations. I became nervous about my Dutch accent. I lost the connection to my identity, and nearly became a number-cruncher, too.
Starting my own business set me free. To make my own decisions. To choose my own path.
And somehow I gave up trying to be like everyone else.
When you stop trying to conform, you free up a lot of energy. Use that energy to experiment, to follow your curiosity, to trust your gut and face your fears. It may feel like a risky path, but it’s less risky than being buried in mediocrity because you sound like everyone else. When you embrace risk, you find out what what you love doing by trial and error; you discover what you truly care about and what keeps you working and writing week in week out.
Stay true to yourself, and be honest in your approach. Get to know yourself.
Master the skills of good communication
If you can’t inspire your audience, your ideas don’t matter.
If nobody listens, your uniqueness doesn’t matter.
A strong voice means understanding how to grab attention, how to keep readers spellbound, and how to be persuasive. It means embracing the beauty of language and the power of storytelling. It means understanding how wordiness, weak words, and clichés destroy the power of your message.
When you write well and connect with your readers, your voice appears as if by magic.
So, stop looking for a unique voice. It’ll come.
I used to worry a lot about voice, wondering if I had my own. But now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow. ~ Austin Kleon
When I started writing, I didn’t believe I had any creative talent
But I wanted to be heard. And I wanted to be me.
So, I learned how to write, I shared what I cared about, and I connected with my tribe.
I still can’t claim, I found my voice.
It was you who helped me discover my voice.