This week, my intention was to write a post about memory, moods, and the interconnectivity of the two. After reading a couple of articles on the subject, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it. And, honestly, my memory could use some work and attention. I’m becoming very forgetful, which for someone who loves being organized, is not a happy mix.
Well, as is my way, my interest in the subject led me to search for other articles and research. When I was done, I realized I had collected so much data and information that it would be impossible to comb through it all, discover my angle, find my voice, and bring a coherent, informative, and entertainingly written — in the “Chris Shuff” style, of course — to you this week.
So, I looked through my collection of saved essays, posts, and articles to find something that would be interesting, informative, hopefully inspirational, yet on a subject that I normally wouldn’t write about. And voilà, I found a great piece for you — and me.
The topic today is finding your unique writing voice. As a new blogger — putting my thoughts and opinions out into the ether — my fear was that I wouldn’t be able to find my voice, write in a clear manner, and keep my posts from becoming a Proust-fest — that would be long-winded.
I think I’ve achieved the first two.
For those who know me, my writing voice is my voice — my true speaking voice, the exact way I would talk to anyone — quirky, thoughtful, and usually with a surprise twist.
As for clarity, I’m a former researcher, so clarity and structure are traits that I possess.
But number three — not so much. I’m definitely trying to master it, but as my writing voice is my speaking voice — my storytelling is not known for brevity — it’s an uphill battle.
A perfect example of this is this intro. I’m on my fifth paragraph and still haven’t introduced the article!
With that, I bring you:
10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
By Jeff Goins
“A while ago, I wrote an article called, Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice. In it, I explain that a blog needs a voice that is both exclusive and authentic.
But here, I want to share a little bit more about how to find your overall writing voice. Which is, I believe, the single greatest struggle for most writers. And it’s also the key to unlocking your creative potential.
Spending some time deliberating over voice is worth your attention and focus. Whether you blog for fun, write novels, craft poems, pencil melodies, or inspire people with your prose, it’s essential that you find your unique writing style.
If you struggle with getting people to read your writing or with staying consistent in your craft, you need to stop chasing numbers and productivity and reboot. It’s time to start finding and developing that voice of yours.
An Exercise for Finding Your Voice
Not sure where to start? No problem. Most of us need help understanding our voice. Here’s a short exercise that can help you — just follow these 10 steps:
- Describe yourself in three adjectives. Example: snarky, fun, and flirty.
- Ask (and answer) the question: Is this how I talk?
- Imagine your ideal reader. Describe him in detail. Then, write to him, and only him. Example: My ideal reader is smart. He has a sense of humor, a short attention span, and is pretty savvy when it comes to technology and pop culture. He’s sarcastic and fun, but doesn’t like to waste time. And he loves pizza.
- Jot down at least five books, articles, or blogs you like to read. Spend some time examining them. How are they alike? How are they different? What about how they’re written intrigues you? Often what we admire is what we aspire to be. Example: Copyblogger, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Ernest Hemingway, and C.S. Lewis. I like these writers, because their writing is intelligent, pithy, and poignant.
- List your favorite artistic and cultural influences. Are you using these as references in your writing, or avoiding them, because you don’t think people would understand them. Example: I use some of my favorite bands’ music in my writing to teach deeper lessons.
- Ask other people: What’s my voice? What do I sound like? Take notes of the answers you get.
- Free-write. Just go nuts. Write in a way that’s most comfortable to you, without editing. Then go back and read it, asking yourself, Do I publish stuff that sounds like this?
- Read something you’ve recently written, and honestly ask yourself, Is this something I would read? If not, you must change your voice.
- Ask yourself: Do I enjoy what I’m writing as I’m writing it? If it feels like work, you may not be writing like yourself. (Caveat: Not every writer loves the act of writing, but it’s at least worth asking.)
- Pay attention to how you’re feeling. How do you feel before publishing? Afraid? Nervous? Worried? Good. You’re on the right track. If you’re completely calm, then you probably aren’t being vulnerable. Try writing something dangerous, something a little more you. Fear can be good. It motivates you to make your writing matter.
Why Do You Need A Writing Voice?
Finding your voice is the key to getting dedicated followers and fans and that it’s the only sustainable way to write. If you’re not being yourself, you’ll eventually burn out.
Once you’ve found your voice, make sure you continue to develop it. It’s a discipline, one that can’t be overlooked if you’re going to have the impact you desire and that your words deserve.
The bottom line is that there’s a lot of noise out there in the world. If you’re going to get heard, you can’t just raise your voice. You’ve got to set yourself apart, showing you have something special to say, and that you have a unique way of saying it.”
And with that, I bid you adieu — now go find your voice!
Originally published on Jeff Goins' blog a few years ago
Cooking for Joan
Since tomorrow will bring a taste of winter — for Northeast Coasters, at least, I thought what would be better than a winter cocktail — and cranberry, cinnamon, and whiskey screams winter to me. So, hit the store and get your ingredients tonight and tomorrow shake up some goodness!
Cranberry & Cinnamon Whiskey Sour
Prep Time: 20 | Cook Time: 10 | Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3/4 cup bourbon or whiskey
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- Ice cubes & cocktail shaker for mixing
- In a medium-sized saucepan add cranberries, water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have burst open and can easily be stirred into the syrup, resulting in a smooth consistency.
- This will take about 10 minutes. Once done, remove syrup from heat.
- Fit a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer and strain the simple syrup, leaving all of the large chunks and skin behind.
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes before using
- When ready to make your cocktails, add 3/4 cup of cranberry syrup, whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice, and a large handful of ice to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Divide into 4 glasses and serve at once.