Creativity Flat-lined: Content Without Personality

Writing Without a Voice is a Pointless Exercise

My last article was a dull and flat post; I’ve just reread the first few paragraphs and now understand why. There was almost no personality there; my ‘voice’ was missing in action, in my opinion, at least.

Apple’s Vision Pro: A Game-Changer in Waiting?

My AI assistant suggests outlines, topics, or subtleties I hadn’t considered. The actual writing is all human me. The assistant also advises me when I’m being boring if I choose to listen.

Not a Tech Reviewer

The reasons why this happened are fairly simple. The subject matter was the problem, and I was writing a tech review. That’s fine if the writer is a tech reviewer, which I’m certainly not. The opinions aired in the piece are valid; it was just the way I presented them that sucked.

I don’t care much if anyone actually reads the article; that’s not the point. I read it and found it so grey and lacking that I would have stopped after the first couple of paragraphs if I hadn’t written it.

Here are the first three paragraphs; see what I mean?

The Vision Pro is a proof of concept, a first iteration, or perhaps an experimental device in the eyes of Apple. Its purpose is to refine the use cases, the OS, and the underlying technologies.

I heard somebody call it a Developer Kit on a recent Wired Gadget Lab podcast. I tend to agree that it’s nothing more than just that, a Developer Kit.

The internet is full of articles, posts, and blogs on whether the Apple Vision Pro will succeed. I don’t think Apple cares much about what the various commentators may or may not believe.

The only saving grace is that these paragraphs truly reflect my opinion. Only the writing style is mechanical. Horrible.

Such is life; we live and learn. Hopefully.

See more articles, posts, and discussions about business, project management, Generative AI and Creative Writing on Medium here. If you have not already, subscribe to Medium. Or follow me here on Substack.

Why ‘Voice’ is Everything

Why does voice matter? Developing a voice can take a while to get it just how you want it. For authors, it may take several books before they finally settle.

In reality, an author’s writing style is constantly evolving. Rapidly at first, then gradually slowing down. A work in progress.

It’s not unheard of for Authors to rewrite earlier works because they feel their voice has matured. This can be especially galling for them if those first few books are part of a long-running series.

I’ve been writing seriously for just over a year now. It’s something I always wanted to do but always found excuses not to do it. The epiphany came with my decision to make something of my business; I realised that the years had flown by and that if I didn’t start now, I’d never do it and always regret it.

Writing Voice: Source DALL-E
Writing Voice: Source DALL-E

Caption: Writing Voice: Source DALL-E

Alt-text: The image represents the concept of a “writing voice” or the creative process It aims to evoke a sense of introspection, creativity, and the personal journey of finding one’s unique expression through writing.

One thing about a writer’s voice is that the writer can’t stand back and describe it very well. But I have a solution: ask AI. More specifically, ChatGPT, the paid version. Here is what ChatGPT says:

Overall, your voice is that of a thoughtful, evolving writer who values authenticity and personal growth and who seeks to engage with readers in a meaningful dialogue about the creative process and its challenges.

I was only going to use the summary paragraph. I felt that pasting in the entire two-hundred-word answer would feel like I was padding out this article with the help of AI.

On reflection, though, the full answer is interesting, but don’t forget that it is only based on one example of my writing. I’ll have to upload a decent selection of posts to get a better picture. See the entire answer at the bottom of the post if you’re interested.

The most important note to make is that we can’t force things. Developing a writing style takes time and can’t be rushed.

Be patient.

Long-Form Writing

After a year of developing short-form writing techniques, which are constantly changing, I’ve already started on a new long-form project this year. I’m not sure, just yet, if this will end up as a short story, a novella, or possibly a book-length project. It’s far too early to say for sure, but it’s likely a short story.

What I do know already is that the voice I talked about in the last section is not suitable for long-form writing projects. Perhaps for essays, but that’s about it.

I’d started writing a book several years ago, but illness and other commitments stopped me in my tracks. I’ve almost thirty thousand words written on the first draft; I’d say perhaps thirty to forty per cent done.

Reading through the draft recently, I noticed that although many scenes are pretty ok (for a first draft), others are terrible and will need stacks of work done during the second draft.

I want this book to be the best it can be, but continuing with it right now would be a mistake. I must practice much more long-form writing before returning to my pet project.

Long-form Writing: Source DALL-E
Long-form Writing: Source DALL-E

Caption: Long-form Writing: Source DALL-E

Alt-text: The image captures the creative process of long-form writing and depicts a scene that embodies the dedication, solitude, and immersive journey of weaving complex narratives.

So, instead of ploughing through, I’ll work on other shorter projects; I’ll learn a lot and can then apply the knowledge gained.

I’ll be sixty-four this year, so I’d better get my arse in gear. And no, I won’t share any snippets of my ideas yet.  

Any late starters out there? Send me a note in the comments.

Time Management Blues

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post on how I planned to fit everything into my busy schedule. The secret was (is) to recognise that private and family time is more important than anything else.

Well, almost, as long as we ignore the need to earn money to pay the bills.

Charting the Course: A Solopreneur Strategy for Life’s Many Hats

The plan of attack presented was always going to change; good planning is fine as far as it goes, but it must be flexible. I’ve been tweaking it to get the most out of my busy schedule.

For example, we are going away for a short break this weekend, so although this newsletter is ‘normally’ posted on a Friday or Saturday evening, this time, it may be a bit earlier in the week. (I’m not sure yet; I’m still writing it).

It is this flexibility that we need to keep in mind. Sure, in regular weeks, we can and should, in my opinion, block certain days/times in the week for specific tasks. But it isn’t a set-in-concrete contract.

My weekly plan is only a guide at the moment. As long as each week’s commitments are fulfilled, I’m happy. But there will come a time when the designated time blocks do become commitments, just like any other appointment.

Time Management: Source DALL-E
Time Management: Source DALL-E

Caption: Time Management: Source DALL-E

Alt-text: The image represents the concept of time management within the creative writing process. It aims to illustrate the balance between creativity and organisation in the writer’s journey.

One additional recurring task of an hour for writing has been added to the workday evenings. This doesn’t mean I’ll be sitting in my office, though. A cheap and cheerful laptop stand from Ikea means I can still spend time with the family while writing. Less pressure too.

The time block for creativity can be devoted to long-form writing; I’m a happy puppy.

How do you organise your limited time? Any tips or tricks?

Grammarly Control

I use Grammarly (link in the standard footnote below) for all my writing, whether work-related, email replies, or anything else you can think of. I’m sure several competing products are out there, but I haven’t bothered to look.

The thing to watch out for is not to accept any and all suggested changes blindly. If you do, the voice you have been painstakingly developing will be submerged by AI-suggested pap.

We are human; our turns of phrase may not be one hundred per cent grammatically correct, but that’s the point.

Yes, it picks up my pet mistakes each and every time; that’s what I expect and pay for. However, every single suggested correction is always reviewed or dismissed as appropriate.

If everything suggested was accepted, the finished piece would be flat, bland, and, worst of all, boring. Not something to be proud of.

I suspect last week’s newsletter was partly a victim of this. I had very little time to think things through properly and, basically, rushed out the newsletter.

I’m not proud of that; a bit hacked off really.

Have you been guilty of letting your grammar checker dictate to you? Comment and let us know.

Final Thoughts

Writing anything creative and meaningful is why I do this. Although the audience may be small, some of you read my drivel. The least I can do is respect that and do my best to keep it natural.

By far, the biggest impact on the quality of any written work is time, or more appropriately, the lack of it.

Planning your days, weeks, and months is essential. Give yourself the time you need to achieve the quality end result.

Self-imposed deadlines can be fun, but they also have their negative side.

Now, what about you? Are you a creative writer? How would you describe your “voice”? Throw in your thoughts and answers in the comments. I promise I’ll answer every one of you.

ChatGPT Answer

Your writer’s voice emerges as candid, introspective, and slightly self-deprecating, with a straightforward and conversational tone. You’re not afraid to critique your own work, demonstrating a level of honesty and vulnerability that’s engaging. This openness suggests you’re writing not just to inform or entertain but also to connect with your readers on a personal level, sharing your journey and insights in a relatable and thought-provoking way.

You also show a strong sense of self-awareness, acknowledging your own limitations and areas for growth. This humility, combined with your willingness to learn from your experiences, adds depth to your voice. Your approach to discussing the concept of ‘voice’ in writing indicates a reflective and analytical mindset, exploring not just the what and the how but the why, inviting readers to ponder alongside you.

The way you address complex ideas, like the importance of finding one’s voice in writing, without coming across as didactic, shows a balance of confidence and approachability. This balance helps to establish a connection with the reader, making your insights and revelations feel more like a conversation among peers rather than a lecture.

Overall, your voice is that of a thoughtful, evolving writer who values authenticity and personal growth and who seeks to engage with readers in a meaningful dialogue about the creative process and its challenges.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this post. If you want to say ‘thank you, ‘ the best way is to get involved in the comments. And my promise to you…If you get in touch, I will answer! So comment away… (joining the email list is also nice)

KodifyIT B.V. is an advisory bureau targeting businesses that have either been on the receiving end of a failed project or are aware of the potential pitfalls and wish to mitigate as much risk as possible while developing a project’s client requirements. We aim to side-step any issues before they cost time and money.

I apologise to my readers for some of the spellings you may feel are incorrect. I was born and brought up in the United Kingdom, and this is the spelling I am comfortable with (Grammarly is happy with it anyway).