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    How to Find Your Voice as a Blogger

    find your voice - woman singing

    One of the things I’ve noticed between somebody who has been blogging for 6 months versus 6 weeks is the distinct difference in the way they write. I even noticed this with my own blog posts as a I looked back at many posts that I had written when I started my blog.

    During the early days of my blog, I was trying really hard to fit the mold of what makes a good blog post. I did things like use bold titles, bullet points, and italics. I still do all of those things, but in those days I filtered my writing and I held back on what I was thinking. As I got further away from that I noticed a dramatic difference in the way my content was being received by my audience. They started to become much more engaged with my content. I started to write about all the things that might be a bit questionable or viewed as violating the “too much information rule.”

    The moment you find your voice

    Finding your voice is something that takes time. It really comes down to writing every single day. While you don’t have to post every day, if you write every day, you will eventually get better at it, and it will flow naturally. The other thing that happens by doing it every single day is that you will continually stimulate your creative thinking. I often will read somebody’s blog a handful of times before I decide to start commenting on their posts. Then, I will find them doing something really unique or interesting and that ends up making me want to read their blog more.

    A Few examples of finding a voice:

    • [email protected] Explosion started to draw caricatures of all the bloggers he knew. I loved that and now I actually will be reading his blog much more. He found his voice.

    It’s not uncommon for bloggers to tell you that there was one special post that catapulted them stardom, and in that moment I think they have truly found their voice.

    Authenticity and Removing Filters

    When I wrote about the importance of authenticity at the World’s Strongest Librarian, one of the tips I included was that people should write as if nobody was ever going to read what they wrote. If you approach your writing that way you’ll find that there are no limits to how off the wall you can get with your ideas. If your post seems like you’ve really lost your damn mind, then I’m willing to bet, that’s one where you want to push publish. It’s those posts where I’m thinking “I can’t believe I’m going to publish this” where I get a ton of comments and engagement from my reader base.

    Ask for Help

    Our egos often prevent us from getting feedback from people. Having your masterpiece torn to shreds by another blogger is not exactly what you are hoping for. But what’s amazing is that getting it torn to shreds and having it reassembled sometimes completely changes the post for the better. The other thing that is amazing is how much people are willing to help. The more help you ask for, the more quickly you’ll be able to find your voice.

    Once you find your voice you’ll start to see a whole different level of engagement from your reader base.

     

    Image courtesy of Pixabay

    About the author

      Srinivas Rao

      Srinivas Rao is a personal development blogger at The Skool of Life, where he explores self improvement, spirituality and navigating through the waters of life by spending as much time as possible surfing.

    • BD says:

      Actually Colleen I think we are of like minds and I just didn’t express myself very clearly. I hate censorship, self-censorship included. I believe in free speech and free blogging on absolutely anything that one desires to. What I meant about self-censorship and the like is that we are sometimes (and probably quite often) compelled to watch what we say–against our own beliefs and principles. In the UAE people can go to jail for expressing themselves freely. And what I was trying to say is that even in the US people will not really feel totally at liberty to express themselves as they might like to on some topics.

      There are “taboo” topics–the N word, child molestation (that is if you dare come to the defense of a suspected child molester). Personally I am against the idea that says that anything is taboo. Everything should be open to scrutiny and self-expression. But the reality of facing jail time, ostracizing, death threats (should you dare to critique Islam, for example). I am completely on the same page as you.

      • Colleen Costello says:

        Hi BD,

        Many writers have suffered in various ways – Salman Rushdie lived in somewhat of an exile for years with a Fatma on his head after he wrote
        “The Satanic Verses” but he’s alive today. Other writers have gone to jail for not revealing sources. In the time of our crazy American Senator Joe McCarthy’s obsession with possible Communism in the USA, for some reason he went after writers, specifically in Hollywood and these writers were considered “blacklisted” if they didn’t “name names” and many didn’t do so, hence the blacklisting. The fact that some still worked under pseudonyms went under the radar, and that some actors fought to get the writers screen credit for their work shows that in general, everyone here believes in our First Amendment right to say/write what we want. You speak of the consequences of writing against Islam, which indeed are severe and I truly regret those consequences for you, as religion should not cross into the creative arts because one is a fundamental way of belief, being, living (religion) and the other is an expression of oneself artistically (writing) and the fact that Islam cannot see these two things separately is indeed sad. What is the worry of Islam being written about? I am Catholic and after being thrown out of churches in Rome because although dressed fine enough for church here, I was not considered well dressed enough to simply SIT in church there, I was not there for services. First thing I did? Found an internet cafe and wrote scathingly about Catholocism and how horrible they made me feel, that as a practicing, faithful Catholic they made me feel a disgrace in Rome? Yes, I wrote ALL ABOUT IT. A lot of people have things to say about Catholocism these days – talk about molestation?? Welcome to our world. That the church hid child molesters for years but I could not sit in an empty church for quiet time? DISGUSTING.

        I think the more taboo it is, the MORE it must be written about because how else is the world going to know about horrible things that happen or if injustice is done. Yes it is risky. Journalist sometimes lose their lives but they are after TRUTHS. Even writers constructing a work of fiction wants an accurate story. I am sure you might have much to say about Islam and I for one, would love to hear about it because my curiousity of the culture and religion is so thirsty, yet I cannot ask anyone and no one can tell me. We can and do talk about molestation, murder, other abuse, the *N word is used so often by African Americans it makes me shudder but for them, it’s OK. I do hear white rappers use the word too though, in their raps and so in the music, another expressive art like writing, the word suddenly becomes tolerable in its content. The PCness is all around as another person commented. It’s rather scattered PCness at that too. Heck if I go to the Deep South of the USA, there are parts I would not be welcome in because I am a “Yankee” a term left over from our Civil War over 160 years ago. The South has not forgotten it. Other southerners are loaded with hospitality, some, with loathesome reproach. I can write about it.

        My own University is big in Basketball. For over a hundred years our team was called the RED MEN until the President of the School, a Priest, decided that that term was derogatory towards Native Americans. Our new name is Red Storm. I still wear a Red Men shirt when I go to games. No other sports teams in all of sports changed their names; Atlanta Braves, with their chop chop Tomahawks they use at games; the Cleveland Indians, the Florida Seminoles, Washington Redskins, I could go on & on. Writing is sometimes going to have to be just saying what you have to say – do we want to deliberately hurt, disenfranchise or alienate people? NO. But in writing, it has been shown to us in the past and present that it can and does, often have adverse affects on the writer and the audience.

        So I believe it requires a bit of fearlessness and boldness to be willing to venture into some territory where it could indeed very challenging to write about. We can and should do this. If everything was easy to do or without consequence, there are a lot of things we would have never learned were it not for the boldness of writers who completely went for it in their storytelling with complete honesty. Some of the classics are filled with “taboo” topics and hence got themselves on “banned booklists” in schools once upon a time. I think the rationalizing of all this lies in the content of what one wants to write about, what period one is writing about and how truly honest that writer is willing to be.

        There are so many things in this world that are displeasing/hateful/troublesome etc. But therein lies tremendous curiousity and a need to know why some of these things happen and who are these people that do these things, their victims, the consequences etc. If we keep this bottled up – stagnation occurs and so does human emotional/spiritual/physcial progress. Writers can be a bridge to so many things; to be stopped in one’s tracks for fear of disseminating information that might be potentially valuable to someone in need, in distress, confused, alienated etc., well what service are we doing them by censoring ourselves. In America, one might have trouble getting such a “taboo” book published – who knows. These days, some people self publish or write eBooks. Or BLOGS. The info gets out there, for anyone to see. And it should be seen. About the only thing that should be cause for arrest here is anything that is seen to be remotely connected to the ruination of our country via terrorism or other enemy. If I wrote about that, YES indeed I would expect the FBI to be at my doorstep. But I love my country though it’s not even close to perfect, I live right where they tried to kill us and would never do such a thing – write against my country. My ancestors came here with dreams for our family and brave soldiers fought and died for our freedom. I do have opinions on our politics though and I can write about that!! Otherwise, I feel I can write anything I want to write without reproach. Does it mean everyone will like it? NO! It’s not about popularity or the NY Times Bestseller list – we may all want to get rich writing but it won’t happen to everyone. It’s about being FREE to EXPRESS OURSELVES ANYTIME HERE IN THE USA. We can, we do and we will. How else do we learn? How else? Here the only things writers have to face when they write is themselves, their topic and the truth of the topic. Some folks write well, some may not but they have one thing in common – they can all write what they want to write about. It NEEDS to be done.

        BD I wish you could write what you want to because *I* want to hear it. I am sorry that you cannot. But I would love to know so much more about what you know, as much as you can learn about us, I’d like to learn about you. Thank you for posting back so kindly.

        • Colleen Costello says:

          BD,

          One more thing occurred to me. If in fact you were allowed to write about Islam, hypothetically speaking, do you think it would HELP, or IMPROVE things between our cultures and foster understanding, bonds and good relations? If you cannot answer this question, I understand, but it just came into my mind as to whether or not the exchange of information would be beneficial and essentially life changing between our cultures or if it would make do difference or make it worse. You see how intrigues I, and so many millions of us are but don’t know a thing about? We probably just hear lies. We don’t know the truth.

    • Its a RELEVANT to that person to write about that word, but it is not purposeful for anyone in this time & place to regularly use that word, of course not. It is all about CONTEXT.

    • And there are other things, certainly, like all the PC-ness around the “N” word. Even if you have no malicious intent and are, say, just using the word for illustrative purposes–as I’m doing right now–you still dare not utter or type the “N” word in full.

    • Colleen Costello says:

      BD:

      I take great offense to your post.

      The concept of “writing as if no one is reading” has a connotation that you have perhaps mis-interpreted. It implies simply to write as if your blog is not going before book or literary critics and to feel free to write in whatever style you wish, and yes indeed, whatever content you really wish to as well.

      Many books have been published (perhaps some memoirs, in fact, derived from Blog content) that contain topics containing allegedly “taboo” topics you speak of. Books I have read DO INDEED use the “N” word because it is written possibly in a historical time frame when that word was unfortunately used too frequently. Or perhaps someone in THIS DAY’S time was called it by someone growing up and suffered great pain from being called that word so YES, that person would use that word in describing what their life was like in hearing or being called that word. It is RELEVANT to that person to write about that word, but it is not purposeful for anyone in this time & place to regularly use that word, of course not. It is all about CONTEXT.

      Next you refer to taboo topic of “possible” childhood molestation (and you further desecrate a deceased person by something of which he was NOT FOUND GUILTY OF DOING) and say one should watch about talking about this topic in a blog. Well, you know what BD? I was molested as a child and I do indeed plan to blog about it as it is an essential part of who I am and how it shaped my life. So it will NOT be something I avoid as taboo and I do not like being told that I should avoid talking about it in a blog because it is indeed something that has affected my life and unfortunately, millions of other young people’s lives when growing up as innocent children, here is the USA!!

      So we will and do talk about what we want to in our blogs. We can talk about Islam too. Not to disrespect it, but as we may talk about any religion or topic that we feel has affected us during the course of one day. That is what blogging is about. It is not about censorship, but IT IS ABOUT GOOD WRITING, or trying to find one’s writing voice. No good writer is out to offend the world – one does not make money selling books that offend people or destroy people’s beliefs in something that they hold onto strongly. It is about “observation” of life’s cultures, one’s personal feelings and experiences, a daily observation, an opinion maybe, but ultimately, it is for the blogger.

      If someone does not like what the blogger writes, they can stop reading the blog but most bloggers want to attract and audience and so their writings will be crafted to draw people into their audience with their style, their subject matter, their stories, poems or whatever it is the blogger writes. It is the talent of the blogger and the independence of the blogger that is tantamount to the blog itself. Most bloggers are smart, sensitive and know how to craft a blog that will satisfy themselves and hopefully attract others. And those who read blogs realize that not everything in the blog will be like “candy” fed to them as it might be to children, all covered up with “sugar” because life is not covered up with sugar each day! Life is filled with challenges and bloggers are curious about life! They have imaginations too! They are curious people and want to examine those curiosities further and what better place to do so and write about it than in their blog?

      Bloggers are intelligent, creative and not dangerous people who have vast minds that are filled with so much information that they feel FREE to talk about in their blogs. To limit themselves in their writing, or censor themselves, aside from something very, very extreme, would be counter productive to their artistic process. All writers take chances, but they are not foolish either. The world presents many topics about which one might wish to talk about and any blogger is free to talk about, in proper style and context that suits them, in their OWN BLOG.

      For you to suggest otherwise is to suppress the artist within and shut down any possibilities of genuine art being created and that is NOT what blogging is about. In the UAE and being a member of Islam, you may very well be limited in what you can speak about and that is to be respected and understood. There may be other Islamic bloggers out in the world I am sure – Buddhist, Zen, Christian, Jewish, Mormon, all types. Everyone works within their own world. But writing/blogging is about using all of our writing tools to craft and build our writing skills and to speak about what we want to speak about. You may have your barriers, each blogger has their own artistic limits as well, but your post was very over-reaching to suggest what topics could or could not be blogged about. These are real topics in people’s lives, past/present etc. People need to write about them for various reasons in their souls. They need for their NOT TO BE BARRIERS IN THEIR WRITING. Suggesting otherwise is like taking the hands & mind away from a writer/blogger. You must understand that while you belong to one culture, billions of others belong to another and they are free to write about that culture.

      I am quite sure you will not like reading my blog, that is for sure. It will be very dark with difficult topics, but then, that is what has happened in my life. FOR REAL.

    • BD says:

      I live in and blog from the UAE. I can’t just let myself go, say whatever I think and write like no one is going to read my blog. One must constantly self-censor. You have to take care not to offend Islam, not to offend any of the rulers and not to step on toes in general. I don’t think this is just an issue, however, in Islamic counties or those with authoritarian rulers. I can imagine one even having to censor themselves in a country like the US. There are taboos everywhere, there too.

      E.g. if in the US, you’d better take care not to say anything that could make someone think you had any affinity toward child molestation. As a concrete example, take all the Michael Jackson uproar. In an interview he talked about sharing his bed with young friends. There’s no reason to assume this had a sexual connotation–it might and it might not have. But in US society to discuss things like this is a big No-No.

      And there are other things, certainly, like all the PC-ness around the “N” word. Even if you have no malicious intent and are, say, just using the word for illustrative purposes–as I’m doing right now–you still dare not utter or type the “N” word in full.

      Perhaps the only way one can really blog as if no one is going to read it, is if they do indeed believe that no one else will. Otherwise, they have to just pretend that they believe that, and I don’t think that would really have the same effect.

    • zz says:

      Hi Srinivas,

      This is a great post. I started my blog a few months ago with very little intention or direction other than a place to force myself to put my creative writing in the public space for potential ridicule and mass jeering or universal praise. It’s also great to have a space rant and journal. While I’m not sure anyone else will ever find me as facinating and insightful as I do, it’s great to let it out.

      Now you’ve got me thinking about “removing filters”. There are posts and stories that I’ve written that feel far to exposing, so I’ve just held onto them in the hopes that one day I’ll “grow a pair” (metaphorically speaking as I am very happily female) and just publish the damn things. You’ve got me thinking about why I filter, which may be the first step to removing them. Thanks!

    • Constructivists tend to adopt a narrow definition that voice is what makes one’s writing unique and personal; the intangibles that demonstrate an honest commitment to its writing. Constructivists would argue that the only clues provided to developing writers should be widespread reading and unencumbered writing practice. After a journey of self-discovery, the squishy concept of voice may emerge some day for some writers.

      I take a different view. I define voice a bit more globally, encompassing what old-time Strunkers called style, as well as point of view, tone, and diction (word choice). I think that discovering voice should be the result of a guided journey.
      http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/writing/how-to-develop-voice-in-student-writing/

    • Lively says:

      As a newbie to blogging, but not to writing – what is the difference between a blogging voice and your own? The blogs I enjoy reading the most have a casual story like feel – more like you’re sitting in an easy chair listening to a friend repeat a tale.

      I appreciate humor in those that are slated towards teaching – and I’ve been reading a ton of blogs like that lately – it helps break up the mind numbing, head spinning volume of information out there (about blogging, of course!)

    • @Alex: Glad to to give you a shoutout. You have one of the most unique styles I’ve come across so there’s no doubt you have found your voice.

      @Ami: I can understand why you might worry, but I think that letting go of worry and results and focusing on your love for writing, as Alex mentioned will change have a dramatic impact on your writing.

      @Marybeth: I think you’ll find that you’ll actually gain quite a bit more from being more personal.

      @Joylene: I’ll be sure to check out your blog :)/.

      @Colleen: As a writer I think a blog is your most essential marketing tool because it’s a highly effective platform that can be run on a shoe-string budget.

    • Hey guys,

      Sorry I haven’t responded to all of you comments. I just returned from vacation and I’m reading through all of your responses and comments, and will be responding within the next few hours.

    • what up Srinivas! I hear ya. it really does come down to writing everyday. The great thing is I love writing and creating, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, so its awesome!

    • Farnoosh says:

      So so true. My older blogs sound different. Perhaps a bit held-back. I was still expressing my own thoughts, but not only do I write differently now, I think, believe it or not, my English has improved. Part of it is the immense reading I am doing, esp. in the classics, and then blogging about them, but reading and writing, I find, are tied and they compliment and strengthen one another. Excellent articulation of one’s writing voice!! Thank you.

    • One of the great ironies of life is that we spend so many years of it trying to fit in and be like everyone else, when the truth is, what the world needs is for us all to be our wonderful unique selves. Once we learn to translate those wonderful selves freely into writing, we find our voices!

    • Your advise rings so true.. being authentic! But it takes awhile to get to that point. Writing daily helps to bring that out in a person. I like the advise of writing like no one’s reading it. It helps at those times early on when only a few may be reading….

      Just write…….thank you

    • Colleen Costello says:

      I thoroughly enjoyed this post as I am not yet a blogger but becoming increasingly interested in becoming one. Blogging now seems to be an essential “credential” and “tool” for all writers now and I require assistance with moving forward in my writing. I have been rather dismissive of blogs but I think it is because I did not know enough about them or their purpose. I know better now. How foolish of me NOT to know how helpful this could be to me as a writer!!

      Now to try and set one up and get started…………..THEN follow your fantastic rules, which I will indeed do as they are gems. Thank you for the fantastic insight into developing one’s character and person in a blog.

      This post is a keeper!!

    • joylene says:

      Thanks, Srinivas. Very interesting post. You talk about stuff that means something to me. Stuff that I’m still worrying about. I’ve had a blog for sometime, but I’ve approached it differently and now it’s almost as if I was back at the beginning. I’ve been interviewing fascinating people and have had any guest bloggers. They’re the reason I have so many followers. But come January I promised myself I’d slow down and do my own blogging. Having so many guests is actually a lot of work. That’s why your post has come at the perfect time. I’m saving it to remind myself that I can do this.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    • Amanda says:

      Great examples to use for bloggers with well-established voices. Authenticity is the best way to engage readers, that’s for sure. Nobody likes a fake.

    • Hilary says:

      Hi Srinivas – great ideas there. I love the idea of writing everyday, even if we don’t post all the time – building up our stock of assets (stock in trade) .. something to draw on at times of challenges, or for inspiration ..

      Just write – and your voice will come ..

      Thanks – Hilary Melton-Butcher
      Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

    • Just a quick note – the link to Skool of Life at the bottom of the post is broken. It points to http://www.skoolofliife.com (with two i’s), when it should point to http://www.skooloflife.com.

    • Jen says:

      Great post! I am about five months into my blogging journey and can identify with what you said. I love the tip to write as if noone was going to read the post. I will try that from now on!
      Jen

    • Tanya says:

      I’m going to make this my new mantra – “If your post seems like you’ve really lost your damn mind, then I’m willing to bet, that’s one where you want to push publish.”

      Thanks for the great post, it gave me something to think about. 🙂

    • Mary Beth says:

      Great! thanks for this, The problem is that the more personal I get the more I could lose. Also, as a new blogger, I want to be/seem perfect. It’s tough to have to admite that my life is a mess. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/

    • I agree with the advice, Srinivas. At the same time, it’s a challenge writing in an authentic voice. I simultaneously worry about being too serious/boring AND about copying the beautiful, snarky voices of others. (sigh) Keep on swimming, keep on swimming.

    • SRINI YOU LEGEND!!!!

      this post is dipped in awesomeness and coated in a thick syrup of insight…. which is really a case in point since your voice has mutated into its own beast and come so far from the first time i scoped your site at the beginning of the year.

      it’s funny but when i look back at my process, it seems like i started out writing in a very robotic way and gradually convinced myself that being real and expressive and imaginative not only makes it more enjoyable for me but also makes reading my writing a much more enjoyable experience.

      additionally – and this is something that way too many people overlook – the degree to which you absorb knowledge and material is largely determined by your emotional state. What i mean by this is that when i write something that makes the reader’s mind do handstands, they immediately drop their guard and become more open to new ideas.

      interesting that you say to write like nobody’s gonna read what you’re putting out there. Like so much of my work it really feels like there’s a contradiction in my feelings towards that. On the one hand, i really keep the reader in mind with regards to background knowledge and making it easy for them to read an article without my background knowledge. But at the same time i apply that rule in other directions when it comes to my figures of speech and the way i communicate.

      i think the biggest thing for me is that you have to LOVE writing. If you don’t love writing it, how the fvck can you expect somebody else to enjoy reading it?

      oh, and thanks for the mention 🙂

      awwwwsomeness. really inspiring to see you lording it up all over the net.

      keep well mate.
      alex – unleashreality.com

    • Great post, Srinivas! You are so right about the tips you’ve given here, especially asking for help. That’s a great one!

    • Darni says:

      It did take time to find my voice.At beginning,I even didn’t know what I’m blogging for.I just knew that I must keep the schedual.So I wrote one post a day.But I knew that those posts were not so good.So I decided to write when I really haven something to share with others.Now that’s different,I’m very passionate about wirting though I’m not writing everyday.


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