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December 01, 2006

Losing -- and finding -- one's voice

One of the things I find most interesting about blogging is the concept of "voice". I'm often told by readers that my blog has an interesting voice which always I find so curious -- because it's not something that I consciously do (OK, now I'm really thinking about it as I write!)

This is all the most interesting because you may have noticed that I haven't blogged in over a month. This is because I lost my "voice", both figuratively and literally. It started at Forrester's Consumer Forum in late October -- in the middle of the conference I came down with horrendous cold, despite countless tablets of Airborne. And rather than call-in sick and put up my feet after the conference, I plowed ahead through a very busy schedule the next week. The result: the cold got even worse and I literally lost my voice. It's taken a month for me to recover but I'm happy to report that after a round of anti-biotics and some really wicked codeine-laced cough medicine, I'm pretty  much recovered.

Well, that takes care of the literal voice loss. But something else also happened this past month -- I lost my internal blogging voice as well. Sapped of energy and health, I could just barely get my work done and care for my family. But that's only part of the story -- I have a dozen half-written blog posts in draft stage, all waiting to see the light of day. I realized this past week that I'm suffering from analysis paralysis -- I've been holding myself to a level of analysis and writing that is simply unreasonable given what I want this blog to be. My last substantial post was on the YouTube acquisition by Google, which was quite the event. But those kind of blog post opportunities come roughly about once a year, and for some reason, I've been trying to write similar posts for the past month with no success.

So I've vowed to follow Nike's mantra and "just do it", or in this case, to "just blog it". Damn the idea of quality and depth of analysis -- I'm better off getting something out there and getting your reactions to it. So here I am, writing a stream of consciousness and finding my voice again.

So hang on, I've got a lot of pent up ideas that I want to explore. I don't promise well-formed ideas or deep insights in every post, but it's the best that I'll be able to do.

Man, it feels good to be back!


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You can always update the post and ideas once it's out ;)

Renee Blodgett

And it feels really good to have you back. Glad you're feeling better Charlene :-) Happy to see you blogging again.




A heavy cold and over-work in parallel can all so easily sap the creative writing juices.

Write a couple of posts about yourself and what interests you (rather than the Forrester stuff). It will help the real you to be better understood and it will help the Forrester persona you to get back on her feet too.

As the old saw goes, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".

Try it.

Graham Hill


Charlene, I know some times I wait until I have just the right thing to say, crafted in the right way, at just the right time. Of course, perfection is a tough thing to wait for and the result is I do not post much at all. As a reader of yours for years, write what comes to you when it comes, and you may be surprised to see how our comments help spur the thinking.

I have become interested recently in the issues around silence and voice, especially within organizations and how that fits with online communities. Interesting thread beginning here!

Colin Henderson

Welcome back. One of the nice things about blogging, for me, is that I can do quick posts, or detailed ones, depending on my mood or my available time.

Josh Hallett

Good to have you back. The benefit of RSS is that even if somebody does go off the grid for a while we can always pick right back up where we left off.

David Armano

Glad you are feeling better and nice to have you back Charlene. This is a very profund post in my opinion—I think you've tapped into something deep here with your perspective on losing and finding your voice again—as well as your observation of "analysis paralysis".

Gary - Breast Cancer fighter

Welcome back - I seem to have re-captured my online voice also. Wondering what your take is on the 12/4 launch of "Ask City" by IAC.


Debbie Weil


So glad you're feeling better. I know *exactly* what you're talking about BTW. "Analysis paralysis" is a real hazard for a blogger (like you!) who typically posts smart, interesting entries. And you're absolutely right, the antidote is to just jump in and start again and not worry about being brilliant. Anyway, I rather like what you just posted. And yes it does sound like your "voice."


Marianne Richmond

Glad you are back at it.....and your post is really insightful. The challenge in "just doing it"...which I think is a great way to approach the problem and to get started... is to stop "doing it" (more thinking, more analysis)and hit publish.


Mark McGuinness

I once went to an acting improvisation workshop, and most of us were getting stuck by trying too hard to think of something 'original' to say or do to make the scenes interesting. The tutor noticed this and kept telling us not to think, but just blurt out whatever came to mind - which was ALWAYS more lively and interesting than anything we could consciously make up. I remember her telling me "Your obvious is your talent" - what's obvious or mundane to us is original and distinctive to others.


Glad to have you back. When I first started blogging, I read about the "culture of generosity" in one of your posts. This benchmark/standard is ever-present with me as I make my way through the blogosphere.

It's interesting that you literally and figuratively lost your voice. In holistic health circles, one would say that your body got sick so your mind/emotions would wake up to what was going on: loss of voice = loss of self-expression. This type of symbolic situation is not a coincidence, some would believe.

Your post reminds all of us how crucial it is for us to listen to our own voices. Thank you for this.

East Village

I am happy to hear you've recuperated - I didn't know about your illness, like many regular readers, until your post.

In fact, I considered many, many, wild scenarios in regards to your whereabouts:

--- Did she give up? It was "too much information".
--- Internet access has been down. (Cable guy is to blame.)
--- Maybe she's starting her own company? search keyword phrase "charlene li startup" (80,000+ results.. hmmm)
--- Maybe Forrester shut her down? Too much controversy.
--- Maybe Forrester is making people pay for access to her blog?

You're back and healthy. That's great. I can speculate elsewhere.

All the best,



Glad you are feeling better and nice to have you back Charlene

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