Earlier this week I asked Bee to have a look at a post I was drafting. This is always a little scary for me as she has a bit of an eagle eye for mistakes and isn’t afraid to be critical. As she read I watched her face, trying to spot the bits that made her smile.
“So what do you think?” I asked when she had finished.
“It was fine,” she said.
Fine? Fine?? I don’t want fine. That’s like telling a man who has just confessed to being in love with you that you think he’s ‘nice’. It’s not cool.
“Yeah,” she went on, one can only assume trying deliberately to make me cry, “it just sounds like everything else you write.”
I thought a lot about this over the next few days and couldn’t decide whether it was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. As a writer, I’m pretty sure it’s good to have a recognisable voice and a consistent style. If you don’t sound authentic and don’t maintain that personality, why would people want to come back and read you again?
On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel a bit icky about it. If everything I ever write all just sounds the same, isn’t that terribly dull and bland? Aren’t people going to wander off, looking for a more excitement, a bit on the side to my nice-husband-like posts? There is of course comfort in knowing exactly what you’re going to get, but do I really want to be the McDonalds blogger equivalent, the place you go when you want something quick and predictable? It doesn’t feel like a flattering analogy.
As you can tell, I thought about it a lot. Some might say too much.
But then look at brands like Innocent – they spend thousands and thousands of pounds creating a voice that is instantly recognisable, that sounds the same on every packet. Maybe I could be like them? That wouldn’t be such a bad thing would it?I would probably draw the line at jokes about containing trombones at what not, but then I’m just not as whacky as a fruit smoothie.
I thought about it some more.
I thought of the predictable style of writers such as Carrie from Sex and the City* and the fact that all of my posts sound the same and couldn’t help but wonder…
…isn’t that kind of the point?
*Who I do appreciate isn’t a real person but it works well for the little joke at the end. You know, because she always ends her columns with ‘I couldn’t help but wonder…’? No? Forget it, you’ve ruined it now.
Really interesting blog post! I’ve thought a lot about voice, particularly since starting a new blog only a couple of months ago. For years as a news journalist I had voice knocked out of me, so I decided I did want a recognisable voice for my blog. I think you can have this but still also keep things fresh with the odd departure from the norm. Plus, I hope to connect more with readers by letting them in on my voice and my style so hopefully they feel they get to know me :) Thanks for the thoughtful post – and – love your voice! x
That’s really interesting Kiran, have you found it difficult to discover your natural voice after having to write in such a neutral way for so long? Has it been something you have let just happen, or have you made a conscious decision that you want to sound a particular way?
It wasn’t difficult at all – I’d always kept writing away at my own little projects in my spare time and done just enough freelance work to keep the voice there – even if it wasn’t speaking as loudly as my ‘serious news journo’ monotone! Now in my blogs I just let the voice come, so it’s naturally mine and not really something I try and make sound a particular way. You encouraged me to look back over my writing, and yep, definitely a distinctive voice there!
I love this post, I think it’s wonderful that you have a recognisable voice. Your voice is you and people want to hear you not some random voice you make up every other week just for a change.
Thank you! I do hope you’re right. Apart from anything else it would be really HARD to sound different!
I worry about this too, in an uber-neurotic fashion. It’s why I’m far too terrified to write anything anonymous – I fear my linguistic ticks would tip off any of my regular readers (Hello, Mum) to the real author.
What I’ve decided though is that the ideal is to have a consistent voice with a variety of topics and also of tone – so although I’m always ‘me’ sometimes I’m amused, sometimes frustrated, sometimes … well, no, that’s mostly it, to be fair.
One of the biggest mistakes I see newer bloggers make is trying to write like people they admire – the lack of authenticity makes the entire blog less convincing so I think having a consistent voice is actually a really important thing.
Me too Sally! Lots of my friends say they can tell that a piece of writing is me even if it doesn’t have my name on it, so I could be quite happily tapping away, slagging people off left right and centre and they would all know!
Oh no, another thing for me to obsess over now, lol! But in all seriousness, I do occasionally worry over my style of writing every now and again. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I worry that my posts have no voice and are too straight to the point over and out style.
While others (if I’m in a good mood) have too much rambling and too many of my own weird sense of humour in them, and would probably scare people away thinking I’m a nut or something.
In the end I just put it down to me being me. Not everyone can be in a fantastic mood every single day of their lives and to portray that on their blog isn’t being themselves. I can only hope that people do like my voice and my content.
And for what it’s worth, you definitely do have your own voice and writing style. I haven’t read too many of your posts yet, but you’re certainly not boring. Stop over thinking, you sound like me!
I heard a really nice analogy about blogs, niches, and style a few weeks back. The basic point was that your blog is like a magazine or a TV channel – you can have different “series” within it (to add variety), but there has to be an overall feel to keep things consistent so your readers know where they are. I rather liked that as an idea.
What a great post! I’m about to introduce a blog on my website and have been deliberating content, but also voice for quite a while now. Coming from a PR background, I have spent my life writing in everyone else’s voice or but my own…it’s actually a bit of a struggle to find it now, as I’m so used to adapting to different brands and their unique voices! It’s definitely going to be a challenge, though I also like the idea that it’s OK to have different voices, as long as there is overall consistency. I guess I’ll just have to see how it comes out once I start writing and take it from there :-)
I find I had more of a “voice” when I blogged like nobody was reading (like at my old blog Liska Life). As lovely as it was discovering the parenting blogging community, it does mean that there are lots of posts that never get written, as I think oh the reaction would be this that or the other….
So writing longer has ironically lost me my voice rather than gained it, but then I am not looking at it from a reader point of view and I can be too introspective.
Now you have me thinking and I’m not sure thinking and me go well together, but for me a least I like it when blogs have a consistent feel about them, that being said the odd post that is a little different never harmed with :) X
I think consistency is a good thing and I like blogs that are not all over the place. I know what to expect, as long as it isn’t boring of course.
I think it’s nice for a blog to have a voice as then it feels more like you’re reading real thoughts from a real person that can be related to.
Enjoyed reading this, one day I will start a blog.