Have you ever stumbled upon a blog and thought…”Was this written by an android, a robot or was it a Martian?“
Maybe it was produced by someone that had a personality bypass.
Whatever it was, it didn’t seem human.
That, I think touches on what a “voice” is.
It is about being human, displaying a personality and willing to be vulnerable.
Then the real fun starts.
Writing and creating from the “real” you is your voice. That can be daunting and exposing. Your internal conversations start the jabber….”What if I show a side of me that no one likes or thinks is stupid?”
Looking daft or dork is not cool.
In fact we were all raised on the human craft of hiding behind a facade when the school playground often rewarded the strong, the fake and the facile.
Many childhoods are lived in quiet desperation of hiding the real “you.”
Being grown up means accepting yourself for all its glorious imperfections.
A formula, an evolution or a revelation?
I don’t have a process or a magic potion to finding a writing voice or an expression formula but let’s have a look at what happens when you start to write and create in an online world. What happens when you start to publish on social media networks or your blog.
The journey commences.
I am curious and wanting to express my insights. I write. I record and express myself. The publish button is struck! The blog post is live and the YouTube video is online!
No clapping or cheering can happen until you step onto the stage.
There the music is revealed, the words are displayed and your design is exposed.
Whoa!…on the internet two billion web users can see your thoughts and concepts in black and white and high definition in all its wonderful glory and imperfection.
If you are honest the world will show up and say “fabulous” …work harder and maybe “well done”.
Your genius that is you is on display.
Don’t like what you hear? Then there is more work to do. The fun stuff is in growing….not shrinking!
That is sometimes a painful revelation but is part of your journey of personal evolution.
The unique you
There is only one “unique you”. Own it and embrace it with two arms and welcoming introspection.
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It’s all you’ve got.
The strange thing is that creating a writing “voice” is more a journey of subtle growth that happens by stealth and mundane action.
Sitting down to write in the small hours. Staying up so late that the next morning you ask yourself…”Was that necessary?”
It is turning up and “doing the work”.
Influencers and stealing ideas and inspiration
I have had some strange influencers on my writing and expression including Jeremy Clarkson of “Top Gear” fame.
An introduction to a car review that is is 900 words of fun, humour and stories and 100 words of features and functions about a Porsche, Ferrari or Skoda with maybe a telling pithy insight.
That is it.
Who would have thought that. Inspiration from a car magazine writer.
Inspiration comes from content and creators who can be geeks, intellectuals or artists. These can be taken from any walk of life and whose ideas are so good that you want to steal them.
Just ask David Bowie.
“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff I can steal from”
What is your voice?
So what is you?
Your persona and humanity is multi-dimensional and many faceted. It is a jumble of experience, thoughts, expression and passions.
Here are some tips to find your voice.
1. Show your personality
Your voice is your personality on display… warts and all. Place a stake in the ground. Put your hand up and say “this is what I think, believe and feel“. I believe in this and I am sharing it.
When that happens people start trusting and listen. This is how I am and this is how I talk.
That is an insight into your voice.
2. Display your humor
Is you humour dark, dry or ironic? Don’t let your children, friends and family’s seemingly innocous non appreciation dissuade you. Press on.
Sometimes the crowd doesn’t get it. You are not creating for the masses…only those who are fans and believers.
Some of them live in a distant town on the other side of the world. They are your neighbours.
3. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes
The audience you want to communicate with will help you define your voice. How you write will be be also woven into who you are writing for. It must be kept in mind that most people read at a grade school level. Trying to be smart and clever by using big words and complicated sentences will just make them click away.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
4. Expose your imperfections
Accepting that you are not perfect but a product of a life journey can empower you to realise, write and reveal the naked you. People will find a voice that is transparent and full of bumps, scrapes and scratches will produce a voice tapestry that is much more interesting than a mass produced sound of blandness.
People read books and watch movies to see life’s dramas in all its glory. That is much more interesting than a manufactured sound.
5. Reveal your passion
Allowing the passion that drives you to radiate and express your ideas and creativity will allow the genius that is you to shine. Passion is not a singular word but a synergy of interests, skills and focus that is wrangled and woven together.
Put passion on display.
A primary passion might lead the pack but all around it are the chorus of sounds that make the symphony rich and deep. Put them up to the light, place them on a pedestal and let them sing.
Talk and write how you “feel”.
6. Tell your stories
Your voice can be evolved as you tell your stories that make up the days and years that is your life. Those stories can be tales of woe, insightful experiences or even just plain side splitting fun.
Tell those tales and let them communicate a powerful message.
7. Develop brand “you”
Can you write down a few key words and phrases that could encapsulate you and could be turned into a caricature or a logo. This is more an art more than a science but is worth a try.
Sally Hogshead is an author that wrote the book “Fascinate”. Her byline is an insight into her brand voice.
“A hogshead is a barrel that holds 62 gallons, so what’s your name smartass”
Now, that is part of her voice and reveals her personality and sense of life. You can’t borrow or steal that line but you can learn from it.
What about you?
What is your voice? Are you putting your personality on display? Are you willing to be judged.
Now that is a scary thought.
Are you telling your story and revealing your passions. Don’t hide behind a faceless set of words. Are you willing to stand up.
We stand outside the arena and say “I am going to go in and kick some ass when I am bullet proof and perfect. That is seductive. The truth is that you will never be perfect” – Author Brene Brown “Daring Greatly”
Let the words you create speak for you.
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