Hey guys! This post first appeared in The Wild Series — letters for creative entrepreneurs who want to improve their voice, content, and vibe of their business. You can get the letters here. "Find your voice. Write how you talk." This is the overwhelming message of, well, every creative entrepreneur on the internet. I agree. But how do you know what makes your voice uniquely yours?
Writing well requires a blend of outside influence and individual expression. There will always be 100,000 other blog posts on your chosen topic. So it's not what you write, but how you write it.
In the same way two painters can use the same popular, overused color palette and create dramatically different works of art, two bloggers can speak on the same topic and still create fresh content.
Below are some tips for finding out how to define your writing voice so you can create truly you copy.
1. Style Quirks
Quirks are tiny, consistent style choices that pop up in your writing. Maybe you tend to start transitional sentences with a preposition (not a great idea, but we'll get to that in a moment) or you love ending a passionate paragraph with a punchy one-word sentence. These tiny style choices result in hugely different, deeply individual cadences that help define your personal voice.
To identify the quirks that mark your writing as uniquely yours, print out a newsletter or blog post and begin circling the syntax patterns you notice. You cannot use, maximize, or develop what you cannot see. Once you identify these quirks you can begin to improve them and use them to your advantage.
2. The Rules You Chose to Break
Mediocre writers follow all the rules they were taught in high school english. Great writers break the rules in ways that elevate their personal voice and cut through confusion and clutter.
Your voice and your message are far more important than any grammatical or structural formality. Fight for your message. If that means slaying some rules in the process, then so be it.
3. Intangible Passion
You will only fail as a writer if you fail to write about the things you care about. This week I received a magazine article critique by my mentor. Before he delved into my style choices or the story's structure, he said this:
"Two intangibles really shine through the entire piece – 1) your respect for the subject and 2) your passion for the story. You can always tell when a writer doesn’t care about their story. It shows in their writing. You cared and it was reflected."
Passion is the X factor of writing and speaking. It is what separates quality content from constant internet noise. Passion is the greatest, truest, most reliable well of inspiration.
If you don't really care to write about systems or fear or any of those "en vogue" entrepreneurial topics, don't! Write about what excites you, or even makes you nervous. You'll know it’s right when you feel that creative anxiety— nothing evolutionary feels comfortable. There is nothing more exhilarating and humbling than being identified not by your name, but by the quality and distinctiveness of your work. We all know what Jackson Pollack's art looks like, or what the Disney experience feels like. But what if your audience could identify your sound with the same assurance? A consistent, individual voice is a lasting one.
Hit 'reply' and let me know what you're struggling with in writing right now. Let's chat.
Stay Wild, J.