November 14, 2012

Blog Tips: Find Your Voice

VoiceOne of the most difficult but important things a blogger can do is find his or her voice. Yes, we hope that bloggers will be themselves, but which parts of themselves come through are what I mean by voice. Is the voice with which you write informative and serious, witty and humorous, snarky and sarcastic, uniquely your own, etc.? Do you rule over your domain by presenting your opinion with absolute confidence and authority? Do you regularly mock and belittle those who have different opinions? Do you reach out to others in genuine attempts to understand where they are coming from and broaden your knowledge? All of this and more makes up your voice.

Very few of us have a consistent and unwavering voice. We grow and change over time, and so does our voice. We may also write posts in which we explore different voices. The normally serious and academically-oriented blogger may write a great rant from time-to-time, and the normally sarcastic and flippant blogger may write a great serious piece from time-to-time. But on balance, we each have a voice, evident more often than not. In fact, this is a big part of what our audience responds to and why blogs dealing with similar subjects will have different audiences.

My Voice

When I go back and read old posts from my first year of blogging, I realize how much my voice has changed over time. I was so new and unfamiliar with blogging in 2005 that my typical post was little more than a link to some news article and a brief comment about it. My voice was all over the place.

How would I describe my voice today? It is more serious than it used to be, although I still have fun. I do make a conscious effort to avoid becoming overly academic because that is not the sort of blog I want to write. I try to be fair (but certainly not balanced), and I am not interested in pretending that I cannot make mistakes. My opinion changes and grows, often in response to input from my readers and other bloggers. While each post reflects my thoughts as I'm writing it, there are a number of old posts with which I no longer agree and at least a few that I am embarrassed to have written.

I want my voice to be guided by reason, but I will not neglect emotion. I will screw up, and I will change my mind. This is how it must be because I am constantly learning new things. Part of being rational means that one's opinions are based on information, and new information is always coming in. At the same time, emotion must be involved. I am going to write about the things that move me. And this may lead me to some places I'd rather not go.

Your Voice

To the bloggers among you, how would you describe your voice? Is this something you have thought about before and worked on, or is this a new concept?

The two things I've found most helpful on the subject of a voice have been taking the time to do some serious reflection about what my voice really is and then asking myself what I'd like to be different. In other words, I try to have both an accurate appraisal of my current voice and some aspirational goals.