Finding my voice: why I’m thinking about writing more

It’s been 18 months since I decided to go freelance. By all the usual measures of success — managing to feed myself, having some sleep, still seeing people I care about, not completely ruining my reputation — I have done OK, I reckon.

One of the things that I wanted to do and thought I would be doing more of, however, hasn’t happened at all since day one. And that’s writing outside the confines of paid work; expressing myself independently and exposing myself to challenge. I thought I would be writing about my experiences, discussing ideas and communicating my opinions on things.

So, this page is the start of doing something about it… and writing about my intention to write feels as safe a starting point as any other.

My desk (at home, obviously; it’s 2020). Ready to write…

I am increasingly aware that I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on all sorts of things, mostly about my field of work and the sectors in which I tend to operate (voluntary, third, civil, public). I also have ideas and suggestions for what we could all be exploring together. To date, I haven’t perhaps had the confidence to commit all of this to ‘paper’ though as that feels concrete and immovable. It would feel like a permanent assertion of where I’m at and, I suppose, who I am as a person. I have a natural tendency to favour conversation about these things as it facilitates fluidity and allows me to shift my position (ad infinitum) and absorb others’ perspectives.

So, what’s changed? Nothing major really, although a few specific things do spring to mind:

  • 2020 (and all it continues to entail) really does feel like a time to reassess things, both personally and as communities, and figure out collective ways to do things better;
  • Having thoughts, opinions and ideas without expressing them is beginning to occupy my brain a little too much, resulting in a bit of exhaustion and reduced capacity for other things;
  • I have read a few books recently (particularly these and this) that really inspired me, in terms of the subject matter, as well as the humility and openness of the writing style;
  • Listening to Jara Dean-Coffey, Founder and Director of the Equitable Evaluation Initiative, ask us all “do you want to bring yourself into the work?” at this event from NPC. I think my answer is “yes”.

And that’s pretty much the rationale. I appreciate that the internet isn’t in short supply of words, so I’m hoping not to clutter things up too much.

Here are some developing principles for any writing I plan to do…

  1. Promote and welcome challenge
  2. Assert a position if I (currently) have one but express my uncertainty about it too
  3. Pose questions
  4. Invite collaboration on any ideas

Whether this all actually happens beyond this page is another thing entirely, of course…

Freelancer. Data and insight strategy through open working. Always social purpose and having conversations. Founded Sheffield Data for Good and Data for Action.