"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot"
- Stephen King
Everyday you are flooded with information, articles, books, social media, blog posts, lots and lots of information. It can be overwhelming because none of it speaks to your voice inside; it is just a lot of noise. You might have favorite authors and retreat to them when faced with all this noise but how do you find your voice? How do you get your ideas out into the world? It can seem impossible.
Writing is hard, and writing in your own voice is even harder. It makes you vulnerable, it makes you look inside and talk about what you really feel and believe. Most of all, it puts new ideas and visions out into a world which might not be ready to receive them.
Stephen King is right, reading lots and writing lots is the key to unlocking your own voice and ideas, but writing can be especially hard as an immediate next step after you read. One step toward a solution can be found in a curatorial approach.
Reading Stephen King's quote made me think about the process of writing and how reliant it is on both reading and curating your thoughts while reading. This may seem like merely collecting or organizing but it can be the important step between thinking about an idea and actually writing something of value for yourself. Curation bridges the gap between reading and writing and creates a path toward a writing habit.
Try it: Collect 5 articles on an idea you find interesting. Now find another 10 articles. Next, select from these 15 articles the 5 most important ones that start to form a narrative arc for the story you want to tell. Each of the five articles will help tell a different part of the story. Begin with the article that gives the best overview of the current situation of the subject you are interested in. Then find the articles that best outline the problem or opportunity with the subject. Finally, pick the articles you feel talk about a solution to the problem you posed. Through this process, the act of curation tells a story and makes an argument.
The next step might be to write a sentence or paragraph about the collection of articles, providing some context for your selections and order. Finally, write more specifically about the ideas in the articles. Through this process you start to find your own voice.
Reading, curating, and eventually writing. Over time the reading and curating will not be what you publish. Rather, you'll publish your writing on the ideas this process has sparked within you.
The art of this literary curation, of gathering your reading into one place, is a starting point to help you find your own voice as a writer. In a sea of information and opinion it will help you find yourself everyday.