"This newsletter fires me up! I feel like I have permission to explore my interests, and I have faith my Personal Monopoly will emerge over time. How can I create a theme that runs through all of my writing?"
Great question. An underrated way to link all of your essays together is a distinct writing voice. Your voice is about how you write, not what you write. It’s your personality on the page. Great writers have voices that are singular and identifiable, like a fingerprint. You can read a paragraph-long excerpt of Virginia Woolf and instantly know it’s her.
Instead of being known for a specific topic, you can be known for your voice. Consider Tim Urban, renowned writer of Wait But Why. He’s known for his personality, his humor, and his stick-figure illustrations. Whether he’s writing about politics, dating, or artificial intelligence, the same voice comes through.
Packy McCormick is a great example too. Packy was in our first ever Write of Passage cohort, back when David was still in diapers. At first the concept of a Personal Monopoly didn’t click with Packy (he admits he thought it was BS). In 2019, Packy had a small following and wrote about whatever came into the crosshair of his curiosity: community, sleep, scientific papers, investing, tech strategy.
Even though his scope was scatter-brained, he had a thread running through each edition: his voice.
Packy brought sizzle to business memos. He fused the rigor of a McKinsey level analyst with the antics of a class clown. In a domain that is typically serious, Packy injects humor, memes, and pop culture references. He’d take heavy concepts, like Joseph Schumpeter’s 1857 theory on cyclical destruction (boring), and explain it through the lens of the Mickey Mouse Club (not boring!). No one expected to learn tech-strategy this way. He took the Internet by storm and his newsletter has grown to over 125,000 subscribers.
The real goal of a Personal Monopoly: be the only one doing the thing you’re doing.
A common interpretation of this is to invent something that’s entirely new. Sure, you could calculate the total addressable market at the intersection of X, Y, and Z– but you don’t have to! Instead, you can embrace this: no one is better at being you than yourself— period!
If you're funny, write with wit.
If you're angry, write with fire.
If you’re inspired, write with zest.
Packy took a bet on his wonkiness and won. There are dozens of ways we can (and will) teach voice to new writers, but no technique is more effective than a dose of courage. The courage to double-down on your real, off-the-page personality pays off. It leads to writing that feels alive, and it creates a vibe that readers come back for. A voice-focused Personal Monopoly is the most sustainable for the long-haul. As your interests change through your life, you bring your voice from topic to topic, and your audience comes along for the ride.
You can be known for anything– but be known for your voice.
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