Dear {{client.name}},

Thank you for filling out your intake questionnaire. Your answers are hugely helpful and are vital to the success of this project. 

However, one of your answers greatly concerns me…

In the section on Voice, you listed Laura Belgray as someone who you wanted to write like. 

I have some grave concerns about this as it relates to your project. Namely...

Laura Fucking Belgray’s voice does not fit YOU or your business AT ALL. 

I would like to take a minute to make sure we’re on the same page re: voice and what it is. 

There are dozens of definitions of “voice” floating around the internet, in marketing blogs, creative writing books, and style guides. 

This is the most useful definition, imo: 

          Your writer’s voice is the expression of YOU on the page.

Technically, voice includes such elements as word choice, syntax, sentence length, sentence structure, idioms & expressions, rhythm, metaphor, and more. 

Practically, though? Voice is how well you know yourself and how confidently you can express your opinions on paper.

Voice is how well your written words reflect your unique perspective on the things around you. 

Voice is everything from the way you wing your eyeliner to the gestures you make as you narrate a story. 

Voice is message + humor + verve + culture + nuance + perspective + anything else that makes you, you. 

Voice is the thing that creates resonance within you when you hear your truth expressed in someone else’s words. 

Voice is the thing that makes you gasp in awe or laugh in delight or cry because you feel so fucking seen by the person speaking from the page. 

Voice is what creates that unforgettable IMPACT on you that imprints a writer indelibly onto your soul. 

Voice is what keeps you coming back again and again and again.

Because that voice -- with those opinions and that specific perspective -- feeds something inside of you. 

It reaches out and soothes some of the parts that need soothing, validates the parts that need validation, is both balm and fuel for the fire all at once. 

If your message is what you say, your voice is HOW you say it. 

It is the HOW that makes a message unforgettable. 

And I know you struggle with that “how,” {{client.name}}.

It’s why you hired me. 

But here’s the thing: This is not about Laura Belgray. 

Laura Belgray is a brilliant copywriter with a uniquely distinctive voice and a fantastic sense of humor. 

As much as it might hurt you to hear this: You will never be her. 

Most other people wouldn’t say this to you -- they’d assume you know this. Or sell you the lie that you can be her if you work hard enough and take their course on how to write Instagram captions.

I believe in hard truths, {{client.name}}. That’s why I’m writing you this letter.

And I’m not just talking about Laura Belgray. 

I could just as easily say “You don’t want to write like Seth Fucking Godin”.

Or Ash Bloody Ambirge or Joanna Fucking Wiebe or Marie Damn Forleo.

Or any other writer whose words make you envious of the mastery they wield. 

What they don’t tell you is this: 

You can master the techniques, you can reverse engineer all her quirks, you can figure out every trick…

And it still won’t sound as fluid and funny and effortless as it does when Laura Belgray does it. 

Because focusing on how Laura Belgray does it will qualify you for exactly one thing and one thing only: to be Laura Belgray’s ghostwriter. 

And she’d still probably never hire you because no one does Laura Belgray like Laura Fucking Belgray.

*sigh*...

            {{client.name}}

Wanting to write like [insert-writer-here] stops you from finding your own voice. 

Because when you focus on writing like Laura Belgray…

When you focus on CONSTRUCTING a voice that does all the things Laura Belgray’s voice does naturally…

When you tell me to create something that sounds like Laura Belgray, because you just love her so much...

You’re hiding. 

You’re hiding behind a fear of inadequacy and you are shutting yourself down. 

You are hiding from yourself -- the thing that makes VOICE so powerful, the thing that makes you envy Laura Belgray in the first place. 

What you envy about Laura Belgray is not her voice.

It’s 2 distinct things:

  1. Her ability to move people with her words
  2. Her ability to be unashamedly, completely, 1000% herself on paper

And the truth is, it’s very difficult to have one of these things without the other. 

Because your voice is not something you find. 

Your voice is not something you find, like a pair of keys that’s fallen behind your couch. 

It’s not some trinket you pick up one day at the tchotchke shop and slide it onto your shelf -- glittering in the sunlight for all your guests to see with little to no effort on your part.

And it’s not some artificially constructed thing you can pick and choose, like a plot of land ready to be turned into condominiums and sub developments. Grammar rules and style choices smashed together into rows of neat little houses with similes and metaphors hanging on the walls, gated community neatly fenced in by pop-culture references and colloquialisms. 

Your voice is not something you discover, the way Columbus “discovered” the “New World” -- forgetting and ignoring what already existed (what already exists INSIDE OF YOU)  in favour of a pre-set plan. Slaughtering and razing the beauty and wisdom this “new frontier” already held, because it didn’t match what he believed “civilization” to be. 

Your voice is not a new country. It is forgotten land, left fallow and untamed. Untouched and wild, razed with neglect and abandonment. Earth salted with feelings of regret and inadequacy and “why can’t I be like them?”. 


Your voice already exists. 

Your voice is an extension of you.

What moves people is not just word choice and persuasion techniques. What moves people are the words you’re aching to say, but can’t even acknowledge to yourself for fear of retribution. Your throat swollen shut with fear, vocal chords deadened by terror. 

“Finding” that voice is like going to rehab. Not the drug kind, the physical kind. 

Because your voice is a physical thing. 

It’s like slowly and painfully learning how to walk again after surgery. Joints stiff, muscles trembling, scar tissue stretching to the point of tearing as you take your first steps. 

That’s what it feels like when you start using your voice. Holding yourself against the supports, because you can’t yet hold your own weight. Shaking and trembling and ready to cry and scream and vomit all at once as you open up your mouth to actually SPEAK for the first time. 

It shouldn’t be this hard when you sit down at the page. 

You shouldn’t have to dig down, excavating layer upon layer, year upon year, trauma upon trauma. Revisiting, reliving memories of shame. Of being told you’re wrong. Do not cry. Don’t scream or yell or shout. Don’t use that tone. Don’t say it that way. Don’t use those words. You can’t say that. Think before you speak. Before you can shed them and start the recovery process.

Before you have a hope of your voice ever coming back. 

But that is the deep work it takes to KNOW yourself.

And if you are not known, how will you ever be comfortable putting yourself on paper for the world to see?  

Your voice is an extension of you. 

It grows and changes and shifts and evolves as you do. 

You don’t actually want to write like Laura Belgray -- I know that. 

You’re saying “I want to have the same kind of impact on people that Laura Belgray does.” 

You’re saying you want to sell as effortlessly as Laura Belgray. 

You want your words on the page to dance the way Laura Belgray’s do. 

You want people to read your emails and laugh and click buy with massive smiles on their faces.

You want to bring joy to people the way Laura Belgray brings joy to you. 

And that is a beautiful thing. 

But Laura Belgray is only Laura Belgray because she knows who she is and owns all of it. 

And she’s figured out how to put all of that on paper.

So, if you really want to write like Laura Fucking Belgray, I’m actually okay with that. 

But you have to want to actually be a writer like her -- not just mindlessly mimic what she puts on the page.

Do you still want to proceed? 

Sincerely,

- Caelin