Squidoo’s lensmasters represent a truly diverse, dynamic group of people from all over the world and all walks of life. Each individual has a unique perspective. We each draw on our areas of ability, our communication style and personal sense of design when we write and create lenses. All of these traits and skills come together to form the uniquely personal attribute of our writing known as “voice”.
I’ve written about voice before - if you haven’t already read that article, I encourage you to check it out. Today I want to get you thinking in new ways – about writing, creativity and your “voice” as a writer. It’s my goal to help you to feel more confident, show you how to get more enjoyment out of your writing and improve the quality, honesty and clarity of your writing.
1. Write as yourself
We all have multiple styles of expressing ourselves and communicating information through language. These different styles are always evolving and changing, sometimes within a single conversation. In sociolinguistics, alternating between communication styles is known as style-shifting.
As writers, we can use our mind’s ability to handle multiple communication styles to improve our writing and inject more personality, character and voice into our work. Here are some simple ways to experiment with styles and impart a sense of voice to your writing:
- Dictate your writing – use your phone, computer or a tape deck to record voice notes
- Put your references and research into your own words
- Imagine you are writing to a particular person – a friend, family member or co-worker and see how your style changes for each one
As you try these exercises, you’ll develop the ability to communicate your ideas and tell stories in a way that’s uniquely yours.
2. Follow a style guide – not a rulebook
A large part of “voice” is how we approach grammar and style in our writing. For example, the American poet E.E. Cummings was known for his use of un-capitalized letters in his work, so much so that even today, his name is often written with lowercase E’s, just like he signed his poems.
I recommend lensmasters take a look at a manual of style for help with formatting, grammar or anytime they need a mental refresher on best practices. Using a consistent style that’s unique to you will give all of your writing a cohesive, uniform quality that will let your voice show through.
Here are some free online style guides you can check out:
3. Change, and let your work change with you
As your interests, expertise and experience grows and changes, so should your writing. Listen to your writer’s voice and let it guide you to new frontiers. From the subjects you choose for new lenses to the edits you make to your existing content, you can always see things through new eyes. An interesting part about a writer’s voice is that it’s flexible and ever-evolving.
As you hone your skills and define your voice as a writer, it’s important to revisit your earlier work. Be open to new ideas and perspectives and don’t be afraid to make changes. Revising early work offers you a chance to improve your writing, clarify your ideas and speak with a more unified, consistent voice across all of your lenses, no matter their age.
I hope these tips helped you understand the many different facets that come together in a writer’s voice and have given you ideas on ways to find, define and improve your voice and your writing.