When you lose self consciousness and relax into the act of writing that’s when your voice emerges – Justine Musk
As the web gets flooded with content creators your voice as a writer will become increasingly important if you want to stand out online. Developing a voice however is no small task. It takes time, commitment and practice. But there are some things you can do with your writing to cultivate a distinct voice.
1. Use Metaphors
The greatest writers in history have used metaphors to explain things. I can always tie the experience of surfing to just about anything. Whether you’re writing about the latest marketing trend or something self help related, the use of metaphors will help you to develop a very distinct voice. Look at your life experiences to see what you can incorporate into your writing.
2. Explore Your Edges
There’s a delicate balance between vulnerability and going too far. Being vulnerable works because it makes you human. It makes you relatable. People who dance on the edges of their writing make us think. However sometimes you have to fall off the edge to know where the edge is. You have to cross the line to know where it is. If you run into a fear of pushing publish, there’s a chance you’ve done some of your greatest work. If you need to see an example of vulnerability done well, just read the work of James Altucher. It’s ok to air your dirty laundry if it helps somebody else wash theirs.
3. Have an Opinion
The people who have the most distinct voices online have strong opinions. With that comes a love/hate relationship with the people who read your work. I think we’re all somewhat terrified of this (the hate part at least). But , in order to have some people love you, other people have to hate you. As my friend Justine Musk says, if you’re going to be fascinating, you’re going to be somewhat polarizing. Strong opinions generate conversations. Here are some very powerful and opinionated pieces on the web. Take a look at the comments and you’ll see they created a stir.
- Why You Should Quit your Job in 2013
- A Rant in Praise of the Unremarkable
- Why the 8 Hour work Day Doesn’t Make Sense
4. Tell Your Story with a Single Intention
If I look back at my single intention, it’s to tell my own story- Patti Digh
This might seem like strange advice for a marketer. But your job as a content creator is to make art. Strong marketing results are a byproduct. Give some thought to the single intention behind what you’re creating. In the case of this post my single intention is to help you develop a distinct voice as a writer. Traffic, tweets, likes, and all those other things are not the goal. They’re the icing on the cake. You probably notice that I also mentioned the use of story. Facts and figures are not your voice. You have to tell a story for a reader to hear your voice. If you have a customer who has had success with your products or services, don’t just state the facts. Tell their story. We’re more likely to remember that.
5. Think About What You Want People to Feel
People spread emotion – Scott Stratten, Unmarketing
This is where I usually start with most of my writing. Words paint pictures which create an emotional response. Give some thought to how you want somebody to feel after they finish reading what you wrote. Massage your words until the sound they make has you feel a certain way.
6. Read The Work of Great Writers
If you want to become a better writer, read good writing. That doesn’t mean popular bloggers either. Read the work of writers like Aldous Huxley, F.Scott Fitzgerald, and Kurt Vonnegut. There’s a reason their work is still talked about long after they’re gone. Their use of language is something we can all learn from.
7. Narrow the Gap Between Who You are Online and What You’re Like in Person
You’ll often hear people say “write the way you speak.” While nobody speaks in grammatically correct sentences, you want to make sure there’s actually congruence between who you really are and what you sound like. You know you’ve found your voice as a writer when somebody meets you in person and you’re exactly what they expect based on reading your writing.
8. Practice 1000 Words Daily
Last week I wrote a post about how to consistently write 1000 words a day. All of the ideas above become much more useful when you cultivate the 1000 word a day habit. It may take you a bit of time to work your way up to 1000. If that’s too difficult start with 500.
While all of the ideas above are useful practice is what helps you cultivate a distinct voice as a writer. The more your write the better you’ll get it. It’s a craft that has to be refined every single day, until you become unmistakable. Are there any bloggers you read that are unmistakable? What makes them that way? Share your thoughts in the comments below.