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Using the Power of Voice To Improve Your Writing

5540462170_d5297d9ce8Squidoo’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.

Photo Credit: HowardLake via Compfight cc

  • cercis70

    Well done, Tom!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Merrci Merrci

    Thanks for writing this. Well said with excellent suggestions.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/StephenJParkin StephenJParkin

    It is certainly true that we evolve with time and that there is no such thing as a single correct style! Really good advice here.

  • http://Susan52.com/ Susan52

    Always love your tips, Tom. I especially like the advice about revisiting and revising your early work. That’s such a great built-in advantage of writing on Squidoo. Our writing style changes, styles in general change, our audience is continuously new, and we can make adjustments in our writing to fit those changes.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/tonyleather tonyleather

    Good tips for any emerging writer. Thanks!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Gadget-er Gadget-er

    Great advise and very well written, thank you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/trevorjb1406 trevorjb1406

    Makes sense!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Kylyssa Kylyssa

    I wasn’t actually aware writing without a voice existed until I was reading some post 2004 web content and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. Once the web drifted away from writers and eager hobbyists and towards people making words to sell products in things which appeared to be articles, writing without a voice became commonplace. With all sorts of voiceless writing standing as examples, I think it’s necessary to point it out to new writers so they don’t just latch onto bad examples and fail to use their own voices.

    Good post!

    • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/veryirie veryirie

      Great point here in Tom’s post and your comment also.

    • http://tommaybrier.com/ Tom Maybrier

      You make a great point. Some of my favorite web content is from the late 90s. Less people were writing on the web and it wasn’t easy to get your own platform. The writing that performed well was, by necessity, great.

      I’m happy that it’s so much easier today but I agree that the standard is lower. The upside is that it’s easier to set yourself apart with the quality of the work that you do.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/RenaissanceWoman2010 RenaissanceWoman2010

    Squidoo has been my vocal coach for three years now. Writing here has been like taking voice lessons. Each and every day I discover how to extend the range, tonality, volume, and other key nuances that will take my voice to new levels. Thanks for today’s lesson. And now I’m off to practice my voice scales.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/DaisyDixon DaisyDixon

    Great advice, thank you!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/clouda9 clouda9

    Needed the spot-on reminders in this article…finally settled back into my desk chair, thoughts less jumbled after a well needed reprieve.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/SherwinG SherwinG

    Nicely phrased.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/getmoreinfo getmoreinfo

    Thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/michaelrbassophd michaelrbassophd

    Thanks!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/tipsanddeals tipsanddeals

    Good tips. Its true that when you know your audience, your writing changes.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/esmonaco esmonaco

    Thanks, I always look for what you have to say, as you offer such excellent advise. I’ve learned so much here already.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/kab kab

    This is what makes or breaks it for me in terms of things I like to read and things I don’t.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/ArthurPrittNdubi ArthurPrittNdubi

    you helped me learn something new: recording your voice. well done

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/aredey aredey

    great post,well done

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/aredey aredey

    great post,well done

  • Papiers

    Yes, nice and concise, helpful for moving forward.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/lbmiranda lbmiranda

    I cannot wait to publish my first lens! Thanks for the tips

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