It can be disconcerting being the voice of someone else. You may find that you start adopting mannerisms and language that you’ve never used before, because you’re focused on creating in a voice that’s not your own.
For example, in a previous job where I managed a social media feed for a senior official in our organization, I frequently neglected my own social media presence because it was a little weird being two people on the internet.
Writers often talk about finding their own voice, but writing for a brand requires us to write in someone else’s voice or style. You may be copywriting or you may be creating content for a company’s blog; either way, you may feel like you’re writing as someone else.
Technology continues to advance exponentially. We now have self-driving cars, full computers in our pockets, and even artificial intelligence capable of writing novels.
Don’t worry, though. As writers, we’re not out of a job … yet.
Right now, AI is capable of writing in the style of Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey. A team in Japan passed a literary contest’s first round with a novel co-authored by AI.
There are over 800,000 books on Amazon right now written by AI, and it has even started to produce autonomous niche news stories for companies like Reuters, USA Today, and the Washington Post.
Though AI is able to write its own words, it still has a lot further to go before it makes any bestseller lists.
Mobile phones have changed the human attention span forever. Microsoft Corporation’s research found that since the year 2000 (when smartphone use became widespread) the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Wow — SQUIRREL — that’s less than a goldfish’s nine seconds.
The brain is a talented machine, but it takes us a full 15 minutes to become fully focused on something. When multiple screens are at our fingertips, we can easily become distracted by every detail.
Writing the perfect novel introduction is tricky because you have an average of eight seconds to capture someone. With that in mind, the perfect first line shouldn’t be long-winded. As a reader, I like to browse libraries and bookstores reading the first lines. When I find one I like, I grab it. As a writer, I want to create that same sense of urgency and mystery immediately that makes someone want to take a book home.
Confession time: I totally procrastinated while writing this article (I know, the irony in the air is thick right now).
What might come as a surprise to you, though, is that I consciously chose to procrastinate.
I listened to podcasts. I read Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please. I took a nap (or three). I went out with friends. I did all these things while my deadline for the first draft of this article grew closer and closer, each minute ticking by. But I didn’t get mad at myself for not getting started. I didn’t even think about how I wasn’t writing my article.
When you’re in tune with your own writing process, you understand how procrastinating can actually be a part of your process, just as much as brainstorming, outlining, drafting, revising, and proofreading are all steps in the writing process.