If there's one thing I've learned from writing for the Hoot blog for almost half a year (!), it's that when it comes to writing, quality matters.
Yes, of course, your content is important. But it's how you present your content that really impacts readers. Are they going to get the message and come back for more, or are they going to fall asleep partway through and leave? Obviously we want to nail the first outcome, not the second!
Here's a secret that has been central to bringing this blog to success: Voice. Voice! Writing with voice.
So what IS writing with voice?
Writing like you're an actual person, with an engaging personality that translates off the page!
Unfortunately many of us are taught to write exactly the opposite way in school. But essays are essays and engaging real-world readers is something else entirely.
So today I've got a few tips on writing with voice for you!
1. KNOW THE WHY
Why do you write with voice? To evoke a desired response from your audience, of course. Pinpoint that end goal – the why – and make sure you're ALWAYS writing toward it.
Your goal in school was probably to get a good grade – and that meant following strict rules about what was and wasn't "good" according to the assignment.
Well there are NO class assignments on the interwebz! Readers will be evaluating your work by their own standards – their interests, their preferences, their likes and dislikes.
So what's your goal in the piece you're working on? Find a way to align that goal with how readers interact online – the length of the pieces they read, the reading level, the energy, the tone, etc.
For us, our goal is always to share our strategies for success with our readers in a way that's actionable, fun, and legitimately helpful. We want our readers to know how much we care about empowering their success throughout every post, and that means writing in a way that's engaging and open. So we embrace a truly honest and informal writing voice and throw in our own personal humor when it's appropriate.
Your end goal is going to be unique to your situation, of course. But identifying that goal is the first step toward nailing the writing voice you need.
2. Know what you want to say first 💡
You can't make something sound good until you actually have something to say! 💁
Really nailing down exactly what you want to communicate and how you want to do that before you get started allows you to construct the entire piece in one mindset and infuse voice throughout your writing.
I have go-to strategies for figuring out exactly how to put what I'm trying to communicate into words. In fact, I have a 10-step writing process that I use all the time!
It's so important to break down a larger task into the individual steps and tackle them one-at-a-time – this helps you carry the same intent throughout every part of the writing process and have a way more polished final product at the end.
3. Go out of your way to read different voices 📚
Reading is hands-down the best way to soak up new writing skills, and written voice is no exception!
Examples of using voice in writing can be found all over: Satirical pieces are a great place to pick up voice strategies, as are personal narrative pieces like memoirs that give you a glimpse into someone else's mind. Even Wikipedia largely has its own voice, as I discovered in an assignment to write an entirely new Wikipedia article from scratch. And all of these are different types of writing than the essay style we all learned in school.
By seeking out lots of different writing styles you'll be able to take the best parts of each and create something perfect for your task.
There's ONE real jackpot for reading voice that blows all of these options out of the water.
Yes, friends, I'm talking about the Junie B Jones books.
I was lucky enough to grow up reading Junie B. Jones out the wazoo. It's a series written for young readers that really embraces voice on an incredible level. And by an incredible level I really mean it – the series is the best introduction to written voice I've ever encountered. I ABSOLUTELY recommend picking up some Junie B. if you've never read a book because it is an excellent way to learn strong rhetorical strategies.
4. Read your writing aloud 📡
This last tip is absolutely key to making sure you're moving in the right direction: Read. Everything. Aloud.
Hearing your writing out loud in your OWN voice helps you spot areas that could sound more natural. It makes a huge difference to actually listen to your own words!
I hope this helps you out! What are some other tips you have for writing with voice?
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