You find your voice by joining the choir
Months after I started writing, even with it being well-received, I still felt undeniably stuck. I couldn’t figure out my voice.
This wasn’t a problem solely pertaining to my writing; it’s been something that’s affected me for most of my life. I created this newsletter to understand better the tenet “Don’t find yourself, create yourself”. Because this was the one thing I struggled the most with growing up. I had an incessant drive to ‘find’ who I was— to discover the best way to think, speak and act—and to know how to be more likeable by the people around me.
It was clear that this made me miserable. I was always unhappy. I didn’t know myself, my direction or the things or people that made me happy. I was always looking for something, trying to be like this or that which only kept me as someone I’m not—so I would quickly phase out of it and return to square one. The same thing happened as I learned to be a better writer. I would read somebody else’s work and think, “That’s a million times better than mine”, garner imposter syndrome, and copy their sound until I (often quickly) felt uncomfortable about it.
This brought me down quite often—until I learned that it’s actually natural for everyone to do this.
David Perell taught me that great students copy their favourite artists. It was also one of the first things I learned when I started copywriting (literally in the name). We become great through imitation, through the idea that in copying other people, word for word or paint stroke by paint stroke, we find our voice through friction. Then, that failure to copy is a success in itself. Conon O’Brien, a famous comedian, puts it well by saying this: “It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.” And another remark I love is what Bruce Lee once said. “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
That is why we must join the choir. Failing to be like everyone else as a kid was a blessing in disguise as it taught me what to remove from my life. Through this trial-and-error, I created who I am. By joining the choir—and then separating myself from it—I couldn’t be more thankful.
What I’ve Learned This Week
Writers Are like Lions
Great writers are like lions. Despite being kings of the safari, they spend most of their time sleeping and lounging around. But once an opportunity presents itself, they are beasts who lock in and chase their goals with complete focus. Good writers are similar (and this mindset has always been somewhat in my nature). They are mostly absent from the keyboard—to read, experience the world, and talk with friends. When it’s time to write, they become a lion. Timers are set, and the focus is exclusive. Average writers are the opposite. They’re too distracted when writing and spend too long dawdling. “Like a lion, it’s generally better to work in shorter sprints”, says David Perell.
Instinct over Emotion
People should act with more instinct and less emotion. We tend to think they’re the same—they’re not. Instinct moves with the wisdom of evolution. It goes beyond the limits of language and encompasses future implications and actions that cannot be simply or quickly described with words. Emotion is the opposite. As the voice of hormones and environmental factors, it only thinks about now.
What’s on My Mind
You do not often succeed in the absence of fear; you succeed when there is fear, but you continue to push regardless of its presence.
Inspiration is perishable. Act on it immediately.
“The happiest, most successful people are the ones who can wait. They know how to stay calm when things come crashing down, they don’t panic when problems arise, and they don’t grab every opportunity they can get out of fear of never getting another chance.”
“Wisdom is the quality of good judgement, and it is understanding you will be wrong, quite often. The only way to understand good judgment is to first experience bad judgement is.”
Favourite Things This Week
The 21 Rules - Miyamoto’s roadmap on how to live an honest and powerful life.
Messi’s brilliance - In this thread, Messi becomes the epitome of “Work smart, not hard”.
Book - I’ve finished Show your Work by Austin Kleon, and I’m now onto Linchpin by Seth Godin. It’s a great book so far on creating a remarkable career and being indispensable.
A Question For You
How could you inspire others?
I hope everything you’ve planned for the week goes perfectly.
Until next week,