At the beginning of January, I accepted a challenge by Jeff Goins to write 500 words daily for 31 days. Simple and direct it required nothing more and nothing less.
This is a challenge which I should never have had to take.
Writing was once as natural to me as breathing. I did it often. For many years, prior to blogs and "vlogs", I published short stories and devotionals almost daily. When I wasn't mining words, I was storing ideas or brainstorming for teaching series. But then something happened to my voice. Or, perhaps, the venue changed around me so suddenly and dramatically that it left me feeling disoriented and lost.
One person in a sea of voices--with laryngitis.
Yes, it seemed that suddenly I lost my voice. I found this to be both frightening and sad. Especially when time didn't heal it. Doesn't time heal everything? Or have I just read those words so many times on Facebook feeds and Twitter tweets that I've come to take them as fact.
How does someone just stop doing something they have a passion for? It happens all the time. People quit jobs, leave relationships, drop hobbies, etc. Many times they fill the voids in their lives with mind-dulling activities to numb the pain of the loss of something that they love or loved.
I have been guilty of this.
You see, I once loved to write. While I never claimed to be good at it, I truly enjoyed penning my thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. I was delighted when people responded to my words. Whether it was a handwritten card, conversational email, e-magazine article, or a devotional it seemed that people enjoyed my writing and related to what I shared.
How I miss those days.
The times before the internet became a cacophony of sounds. The years before "churnalism", blogs, and social media, etc. when people communicated mostly face-to-face. They used email to bridge the gap of distance. Not to promote or sell stuff. Back then my voice seemed loud and clear.
Not so much these days.
This is why I now struggle to write. Having lost my voice in all of the online noise, it is hard work to try to find it. Can I still type words? Yes, of course. But what should I talk about? There are droves of writers clamoring for people's time and attention. Many of them have a loud voice and a big audience.
All I have is a whisper.
I know that I need to write first and foremost because I am a writer. It is not for other people that I pen words. I write to fulfill one of the purposes for which I was created. But is it a waste of time if no one hears the words? Wouldn't my time be better spent doing something else? Have all of the words already been said, re-said, reclaimed and spoken again?
That is what it feels like most days. I, myself, feel as though I'm being stretched and pulled in many directions to keep up with other writer's content. Why do I bother? Because it is good stuff. It is useful, insightful, and meaningful. But do I need to add to it? Be another voice in the mix. One more person promoting their ideology in an already overcrowded space?
Sometimes I don't know.
I have been told that "my voice is needed" but just how can a whisper be heard above the roar of this world? It seems to me that it can only happen if the voice has the right message. Words are good. They are beautiful. Even lovely. But we already have enough words floating around the atmosphere.
What we need are messages.
Life-giving, spirit-stirring, thought-provoking, plan-altering words. I don't think that just turning oneself over and spilling out will do these days. There is enough of that going on already. For me, as a reader, it gets old unless it happens to meet me "where I am at."
In the crowd. Longing to be heard. Whispering.
It is hard to imagine that a thin-voiced writer could be heard above all the noise that is already being made. Those kinds of thoughts taunt me daily when I even think about picking up a pen. I am heckled by my own questions. Chided by self-doubt.
And then I remember the words of a song by Tracy Chapman which say "don't you know, talking about a revolution starts with a whisper." Hmm, maybe she is on to something. And perhaps, so am I.
Could it be that the volume of your voice doesn't matter nearly as much as what you have to say.
Is it possible to make an impact with words without being a braggart, liar, or self-promoting fool? I guess that I am about to find out. To do so, I've got to find my voice in this season of life. That all begins with a barely audible throaty whisper which says...
"Within me there is a message that matters."