Opening my Google Reader in the morning feels like walking into a big party packed with interesting, engaging people. Even if a quick headline scan shows several bloggers are discussing the same topic, I’m always eager to hear their varied and unique perspectives.
I’ve noticed that fascinating party guests and successful bloggers share one essential trait. They all speak with a clear, authentic voice. Whether conversing amidst a cluster of cocktail-drinkers or blogging in a crowded niche, they’re not going to be mistaken for someone else.
What is “authentic voice” in blogging? To me, it’s putting yourself on paper. It’s your personality, perspective, and style shining through the words you write. When you’re blogging with an authentic voice, you might be talking about the same topic as someone else, but it’s going to sound completely different.
You’d think blogging in an authentic voice would come naturally, but it usually doesn’t. A lot of us come from backgrounds where we were encouraged to quiet down, stifle ourselves, and be like those around us. Being different, creative, or a bit on the loud side earned us red marks on papers, pointed stares, and trips to the
woodshed. Over time, we learned we got more goodies by staying inside the lines, walking with the herd, and blending in.
Thank God those days are over! And now that they are, it’s time to get on with the business of being ourselves because blending in just doesn’t cut it in the blogging world.
Find Your Voice by Journaling
Like with most other things, the only way to become skilled at blogging with an authentic voice is through practice. And in this case, practice means writing, writing, and writing some more. For me, the best writing practice comes by journaling, and I highly recommend it to you too. When you let yourself write about anything you want with no intention of ever showing your words to another living soul, it feels safe to be real. And the more you let your authentic voice come out in your private journal, the easier it will get to bring it out for your readers.
Evict Your Inner Critic
To coax your authentic voice into your blog posts, give yourself permission to write really crappy first drafts with the promise you’ll dress things up later. What I do is write about my post’s topic for 10-15 minutes without stopping and without any self-censoring. I keep my fingers moving on the keyboard and don’t worry about punctuation, how things sound, or what anyone else might think. When I’m done, the results aren’t pretty, but my authentic voice has been captured on the page and tends to stick around throughout the revision process.
Raise Your Voice
As you develop your blogging voice, be aware that some days it might be a whisper and some days it will be a roar. You might even cover the whole vocal range in a single post, such as starting a post with instructions on baking the perfect cheesecake and ending with the true story of your Rottweiler devouring that perfect cheesecake while it cooled on the counter.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on my voice and you keep working on yours. I look forward to seeing you in my Google Reader!
Got anything to add or share? Leave a comment!