Ashley Kelly

Write a letter, gain some clarity...and a tip for finding your writing voice.

Ashley Kelly

I started journaling back in 2012 because I wanted to get to know myself better and understand my emotions. 

When I look through my journals, some of the things I’ve written make me cringe when I read them back.

I literally think, ew.

And some things are insightful, funny, deep, and I think, wow you awesome human, you.

In my experience, I’ve found the best way to gain clarity about something is to write it out. Maybe it’s an emotion, an idea, or something you want to say to someone.

For me, I've found writing a letter to the thing really helpful - especially if I'm stumped in the moment and don't know where to start. There's something about writing the words "Dear (thing)" that opens a door in my head and enables me to start writing.  

I think it has something to do with writing to it and not about it that allows the words to flow. 

I've written letters to myself, to my emotions, to my ideas, to people, to my dog, to strangers, to the universe, and random things.

I try to be specific and focus on one thing at a time.

One idea.

One expression of gratitude.

One emotion, one person or thing.

Sometimes brain dumping is necessary, but for the most part, I like to stick to this premise because it keeps things concentrated.

It allows you to deal with one issue at hand.

It also allows you to see if there are patterns.

Maybe one thing keeps coming up over and over.

Maybe, you need to dig deeper?

Seek closure?

Forgive?

Let go?

Say goodbye?

This method of journal writing opened my eyes to what kind of relationship I had with anger, sadness, love, patience, my partner at the time, to name a few. 

I’ve also found that this has helped me become a better verbal communicator.

I consider myself gregarious and extroverted, but I’m also a private person so I find talking through my feelings difficult at times.

When we talk, I find that we limit what we say sometimes for various reasons; to protect ourselves, to protect the other person, to limit our vulnerability, to avoid the truth.

Sometimes, we can’t get it out because we’re overwhelmed with emotion.

But I find with writing it down, you can be real and get it all out.

Obviously, you can't be like, "oh hold on one sec while I write out my thoughts first" before every interaction. It's simply not possible and would just be weird. 

But taking some time to reflect and write helps to clear your head, solidify ideas, and work out things you’d like to say out loud.

Writing has helped me work through difficult decisions in my life and career more than anything else.

It also serves me as a well of insight and inspiration to write more stuff, communicate better, and be an overall better human.

Which brings me to this “writing voice” everyone talks about.

Being a writer has always been something I wanted to do.

When I began thinking about publishing my work and taking my writing to the next level, I could feel myself resisting. My mind was racing with all the things I needed to do in order to become a writer. One of those things was, finding my writing voice.

But after some thought, I was like, wait a minute.

I write stuff.

I’ve been doing it for years.

I already am a writer.

My writing voice is the voice I already have.

It’s me.

How I talk.

How I would speak to a friend.

And my writing voice will continue to develop and evolve as I continue to develop and evolve as a human.

So the voice will change as I change.

And for me, that works.

If you’re struggling to find your writing voice, try reading through your journal entries. You might pleasantly surprise yourself with the writing voice you already have.

If you don’t have journal entries to flip through, start writing one now.

Don’t filter it, just write.

Try writing a letter to someone or something if you don't know where to start.

It can be just for you and your journal if you like. Maybe you send it to someone, or not.

Maybe you burn it.

Or, maybe you create an epic piece of content to share with the world.

It’s also pretty fun, just sayin’.

You could try starting with one of these:

Dear (insert family member/friend/lover’s name here)...

Dear Max (That’s my dog. Love letters only please)...

Dear stress…

Dear fear...

Dear time...

Dear cute guy/girl on the train...

Dear guilt...

Dear inspiration...

Dear rejection...

Dear business idea that won’t leave me alone...

Dear ego...

Dear Dumbledore (kidding...but not)...

Dear 16 year old me...

Dear 100 year old me...

Happy writing.