Okay, you’re ready. You’re going to write the book you were meant to write. After all, this is what you want to do with your life, you’ve always wanted this. So you clear out thirty minutes, sit down and…
Pressure builds and you can’t find your voice. It’s like a first date and you wonder, “Why can’t I just be myself?”
Turns out, there’s a reason this happens. I just read about it, and there’s even a solution too.
Apparently, too much significance clogs your brain. Sian Belock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago did a whole study on it. She calls it, “stereotype threat.” When a talented person can’t do the thing they’re meant to do because they’re bogged down by the idea of themselves doing it.
According to Beilock, it clogs the cortex. You can’t get thoughts down, you can’t find your voice.
I used to come up against this a lot, but I found my way around it. I call it the 3Ps. You can unclog your cortex and write from your heart again. That’s your voice.
The 3Ps are Pleasure, Progress and Practice. Here’s how they work:
Start by meeting inspiration where it lives—places of pleasure and joy. Pleasure gets your brain to relax and allows you to be more you. I’ve tried to get there by downing a bunch of cappuccino, and it doesn’t work. Something’s missing. You know how some people put on music while they write? I actually use movies from time to time. I’ll put in a movie I’ve already seen to distract me from my image of myself, and before I know it, I’m back in the flow. It lightens me up and makes me happy.
One thing that makes your voice freeze up is fear of failure. Your authentic voice hides for fear of getting its hand slapped. And sure enough, the first sentences that come out are not the best. So what do we do? We judge it, which only leads to more frustration. So you’ve got to counteract that fear by congratulating yourself on every word of progress. Celebrate! Coax out your voice with pride and optimism, and you’ll sound more and more authentic. It may seem counter intuitive to praise what doesn't sound quite right, but I promise it serves no purpose to judge it. You want to find clarity not judgement, and to get there you've got to make progress.
Everybody says it because it's true. This is how you seal the deal. Pleasure and progress accumulate through practice. Your voice won’t be quite as natural on page one as it will on page ten, and the more you do it, the more pleasurable it becomes. It’s weird, but in any good relationship it takes time to figure out how to be yourself.
Whenever you get trapped in your image of yourself as a writer, you’re trapped in ego, which makes it impossible to say what you need to say. As Sian Belock discovered the brain gets clogged with its own image. It gets anxious, insecure and tries to justify its intelligence with big words. Your heart knows how to speak through all that. In my experience when I sink into my heart, it actually feels as if I'm speaking or singing from my chest. Pleasure, progress and patience are the way I consistently find my way back to my authentic voice.
I would love to hear more about any methods you use to connect with your voice in the comments below!