Posts tagged ‘voice’
Truly, “Be Yourself!” is a tall and painfully vague order. I remember this advice from when I was young(er, er) and just starting to date. And before job interviews. And auditions. And. And. And.
And therein lies the problem. Sometimes who you are, really, is not readily apparent to you. Sure, you have a vague idea, but do you really know? (For instance, recently, at a friend’s wedding, the groom made a toast and described me as having a very big heart. Sure, he was drinking at the time, but descriptions like that floor me.)
We all have an image of ourselves. Further, there are things we want to project and aspects we are uncomfortable showing. And some traits which we come to value more over time. For instance, my sense of humor has only recently been any public use to me at all. Being funny isn’t something we tend to encourage in women. One of my friend’s remarked (quite profoundly, I think) that if you saw two people on a date, and it was the man who was laughing at what the woman said, it would strike you as odd. Women aren’t the ones expected to be funny. (To that effect, there’s a recent article that talks about this in the latest Scientific Mind.) I am also aware that being caustic has implications in how people perceive me. I occasionally have to make an effort not to censor myself too much to avoid those judgments.
We are frequently encouraged to stifle our personalities and silence our voices. It’s certainly been the case with some aspects of my personality and my experiences. In fact, I think for many of us, who we are, is to some extent not who we were supposed to be.
So we want to write smarter, have people believe we are [insert characteristic here (upbeat, professional, charming, together etc.)] I tried a few times to be be poised, because I think women who are, are lovely. I can’t hack it though, and it becomes really painful…
Now, how do we get to who we really are… Of course, write, write, write (Oh, noes…). Also, ask your friends what they think of you. No, really. Just tell them to tell you the stuff they like.
With regards to suggestions, let’s begin from there:
- Ask your friends how they would describe you. Try this: Your best friend meets a new co-worker that she thinks would gel perfectly with you. She says, “Oh! You have to meet my friend!” He says, “Really?! Why?” She responds, “well, she’s just like you, she’s _____. “ What would your friend say here? Use any many adjectives as you can. This will give you some idea of your positive (or, at least, enjoyable ) traits.
- Read other blogs. You’ll learn what you like, what inspires you and, as Dave Taylor notes in this brilliant tip: “One of the best ways to learn your blogging voice is to read a lot of other bloggers and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with their writing style, whether they seem to be a friend chatting with you or some self-important twit pontificating, and which you find most appealing. Then be inspired by that and try to create a writing persona that matches what you believe are the best practices.”
- Did you particularly enjoy writing a specific post? Or feel proud of it? Look at why: is it more “like you”? Did you enjoy the way you approached it? Sometimes it’s that one post in which you find your voice.
- If you are interesting in writing content that is more intimate, more revealing, take a look at Isabella’s book recommendations and this blog post on “Blogging Yourself Home“. (With respect to journaling privately, I also enjoyed her post on “using your negative voice“.)
- Even if you don’t consider yourself “a writer”, you can find the authentic “you”. To make the process less daunting, take Matt Crowe’s advice on how to finding your voice as a blogger: “Think about what do you absolutely love doing more than anything else in life and blog about that.”
- Jean Berg-Sarauer also suggests journaling: “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.”
- Additionally Jean advises that bloggers let their writing suck on initial drafts – to be cleaned up later. I understand how difficult it is to allow yourself to do so, but she’s right, it really helps. You can forget about proper spelling and grammar for a moment, and give yourself permission to leave blanks when you can’t find the words (trust me, getting stuck on trying to find that elusive word can be time-consuming and inspiration killing). You might feel like a dolt during the process (“Wow, I can’t even formulate sentences… What an idiot,” but allowing yourself to just write without censoring, just as it pours out of you can be very eye-opening – and freeing.
Note: I’ll be posting the slides for my talk tomorrow on this blog, and on Slideshare.
On the survey I sent to bloggers, I also asked:
“Why Do People Care About Your Blog?
What do you think (or have you heard as feedback) that makes people read your blog?
There are many, many blogs around. The fact that a blogs has any audience at all beyond the blogger’s immediate family is often a testament to a blogger’s persistence (sticking around, continuing to blog, and allowing their voice and audience to develop). Oh, and there’s also that ever important content thing.
The feedback I get is mostly with respect to my Your Dose of Lunacy blog. People tend to read it because they think it’s funny. I also hear: because “you find the weirdest things” (some people can walk tightrope, noticing the freaky appears to be my gift). Another popular response is that they have the same raunchy sense of humour, or taste in inappropriate, but (for obvious reasons) feel they should resist making that aspect of themselves public. So my blog appeals to them. And is an outlet.
Basically, people read that blog because it’s funny. If it ceased to be, I would lose my audience. They go there for amusement. That’s fine with me because it gels with why I write the blog – fittingly, it’s to amuse.
Here are a few reason the bloggers provided for why people read their blog:
|As a business blog we are read by all sorts of clients – past, present, and future along with people in our industry from other photographers to wedding planners and the like. We’re also often surprised to hear that we have a lot of readers who fall into neither category – girls who don’t even have a boyfriend following along with our wedding work because the images themselves resonate with them.
Our blog allows people to get to know us as people more than our work on its own ever could, and I love that!
|Classifies her blog as:
The Style Spy
| Classifies her blog as:
|Monique Trottier||The feedback and comments are usually from people who want to thank me for sharing a particular book or insight. They care because they’re interested in the same sorts of books, or they want to share what they find interesting. It’s nice.|
|Classifies her blog as:
Book blog, with a bit of technology, marketing, tap dancing and party tricks
|I write about chocolate.I was going to leave it at that, because that’s probably one major reason people read it. Other reasons include the curation factor: that I’m sourcing chocolate and talking about issues so that other people don’t have to look for that information themselves. And also that I present an expert opinion – my background in science and chocolate makes me a credible source.And, the voice thing. People like my voice. I like to think that I make an esoteric topic (artisan chocolate, science) accessible and fun.|
| Classifies her blog as:
Food (specifically chocolate, often science, sometimes pastries/sweets/candy)
I asked a few bloggers I knew to fill out a short survey. One of the questions was:
“Did you have any difficulty finding your online voice? If so, how did you discover it? Do you have any tips on that for new bloggers?”
(Yes, these are three separate questions I asked as one. This made the form look shorter and hence. more likely to be filled in, and I apologize to no one for that! No one!)
Here are some of the astute responses:
I’m currently prepping for my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice“. This post is the first of the series.
Since I figured saying, “Well, you start blogging and then, after a while, you find your online voice” might not be very inspiring to participants, I wanted to ask other bloggers (via a survey) about their process. Tomorrow I’ll be posting some of the cool responses I received.
As for me, my process was really trial and error (for both blogs – especially the humour one, which, as I’ve repeatedly stated, I nurture and feed much more consistently).
For Your Dose of Lunacy:
I really didn’t know what I would write about. I just knew that it was necessary to have a blog if I was to consider myself a person in-the-know about social media/technology. I had fancied myself a writer since I was a kid - and that wasn’t entirely an asset. My early writing was a bit too stilted and pompous (as far as I’m concerned), a little too long, and not very natural in tone.
I tried to write about the wacky occurrences that I had had in my life, and there’s still some of that in my blog, but I also realized that there were things I liked to rant about, and that I did that in general, in real life. And so I found myself ranting, but I really didn’t realize the theme until I read a description a friend of mine had written about my blog which described it as (something like) “amusing weirdness from the net”. I thought: “Really?! Well I guess I do write about that kind of stuff alot. OK then…” And an (admittedly very loose) theme was born.
For this one, Me Like The Interweb (which I started after the other, in order to somewhat separate the raunchiness from my business thoughts):
I originally considered doing (and probably did to some extent) what I thought was “de rigeur”. At the time, most seemed to be blogging about what they attended (be it conference session, webinar etc.), what they thought of it and what it made them think about on the topic. Also many would comment on items that were popular at the time. While that can be very valuable for those bloggers and their readership, especially if they had something astute to say on the subject, I really felt this wasn’t the direction I wanted to go. For one, I don’t have something smart to say about everything that happens – and certainly not succinctly. And secondly, I am too obsessive (and possibly long-winded) to put together a “quick” post that is still interesting and well-written. As such, writing is time-consuming and I have to pick my priorities.
So, unless I am really inspired to blog by a talk and/or feel there is something monumental to discuss about an event I attended, I won’t. This blog tends to be a bit of a brain dump – albeit it far more hygienic and organized than the inside of my head. I write more when I have a talk to give. Hence, these posts.
I can say that my Your Dose of Lunacy voice sounds much more like me – if you know me well, and catch me on a ranting day. (Also, I’m a little nicer in real life) This blog is my other half: more how I sound at talks, and when I’m being professional or introspective.
A critical thing I want to mention is: I never expect anyone to read my blog (at least not consistently) because of me. I really believe in the importance of the content, and overall write under the assumption that no one cares about who I am, and that the post better be interesting (or funny) even if they don’t know me or care anything about me.
What about you? Did you have a path to finding your online voice. Or did it just come naturally? Any tips?
P.S. I have a few comedy articles on Zug.com. The general theme of these concern FAILS in my life – and your reading will prove that they didn’t occur in vain…
When I first started this blog (at the end of 2007), I posted the (creatively and originally titled) post: “My Views on Social Networking“.
“On a large scale, social networking truly fulfills the role that our old (read: non-virtual) communities used to prove. This has sorely been lacking for most of us. Now we are only several connections away from others, only a few friends away from a new friend. Here we offer assistance to each other and ask for help. We are kept posted of occurrences within our social circle, to what are friends are doing or concerned about, today. Of what events they are attending. Here the town crier is Facebook, shouting out to us about the many parties we can attend, things we can do. As a “Wired” article summed-up the phenomenon that is Twitter: “That tactile sense of your community is simply too much fun, too useful” (Clive Thompson, “How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense”).
That this evolution has also tremendously affected how we communicate with each other online, even in a business context, is clear by this point. And it has changed how much of ourselves we display to others, even if we have a possible business agenda to our online presence.
In February I moderated the very cool panel discussion about who you are online (photo here ). All the women on the panel (Jenn Lowther, Rebecca Bollwitt, Linda Bustos and Nadia Nascimento) were web savvy (understatement), and, as such, had a strong awareness of the public nature of communicating online. They were very strategic about their line between public and private, establishing those boundaries and the nature of how they presented themselves. That said, what we were comfortable posting about was quite varied.
This morning, I was talking to my boyfriend about Twitter and remarked that he’s been online for a few months, he has a clearer idea of how he wishes to communicate (or, to be artistic here, he understands his online “voice”). It’s something that I have to remember to make clear in an upcoming presentation, that this understanding of “who you are online – be it on Twitter, Facebook, a Blog etc. – does not come immediately. And it takes some playing around and trial and error for most to figure out what they are comfortable with and what works for them or their business or organization.
When I first started to blog, it was on my humor blog – and actually didn’t realize that that would be the theme of my blog. In fact, the first few posts were random essays and rants. I only discovered what I would be motivated to post about (i.e. absurdities) after a month or two.
There were also other discoveries – such as after a week or two on Twitter, I realized that I wasn’t too keen on posting about what I was doing- and made the executive decision that no one would be the least bit interested. Like most, I am not exciting 24hrs a day. Sure, 5-7 times a day, I’m entertaining. And if that’s all I tweet, I’m golden. Posting more often, or potentially a log of everything I was doing, would break that illusion (e.g. 6am: “Working on the computer, as you can ascertain”, 8am: “Time to eat” 10am: “Still working on the computer, now at a coffee shop”, 6pm “Time to eat 7pm: “Back to working on computer again”).
So my succinct advice about authenticity online would be: “be real, but like, better.”