Giving your writing personality

I’m switching over to a new RSS reader from Google Reader, and it is a chance to get rid of some blogs I have been following that are no longer active. I am really surprised how many things that I used to follow that just don’t seem to be around any more.

This, of course, can be an opportunity for media and marketing folks who need to use quality content to both tell their message and have it rank well in search. But I like reading blogs because they are fun. It’s less fun when writing in the cold, corporate voice or controlled media one. So how do great writers let their style show through?

  • Write what you know well.

    Why do I care about the adventures of Marlo when her mom, Dooce, writes about them? Like many mommy bloggers, it’s the description of small moments in life, but told in enough detail that they are easy to picture. Or, in Marlo’s voice, picthure. The first rule of feature writing is that storytelling thrives on details. Familiarity helps you describe the details in a meaningful way.

  • Use language in a way that’s comfortable for you

    . You’ll may hear this advice as “write the way you talk.” Don’t do that, since oral language often has grammatical issues that make you look pretty stupid if you write them down. But if you have words you often use or ways you usually phrase things, using those can add personality.

  • Write without worry.

    Writing may not be the most comfortable thing that you do. But agonizing over every sentence before you write it down almost guarantees stilted, disjointed work. I teach people how to do journalistic writing, which often means going from facts to story in just an hour or two. The threat of the deadline means that there is no time to agonize up front, and many writers benefit from this “forced, fast, first” draft, because it can enable what scientists call the state of flow, in which a lot of creativity happens and writing even becomes fun. Get it down, then you can always fix it.

Learn more:

These bloggers have a lot of personality in their writing: Cakewrecks, Dooce, People I Want to Punch in the Throat

More about the state of flow

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