You want to appeal to your audience and deliver your message in a way that rouses them to action, or makes them think, or laugh, or cry; you want to make an impact. That's where style and voice come in. Style covers things like word choice, the types of sentences you write, how you introduce a piece, how you conclude it, and how you show your meaning (if you don't know it already, memorize and make your own the mantra of “show; don't tell"). Voice is that element that's intangible, yet so crucial for effect. Voice in writing is what makes it yours and no one else's. It's you peeking out from behind your words saying, “This is me!" It's what gives your writing power and captivates your readers.
Here's how to write with voice:
1. Good writing comes from the heart. Writing from the heart and letting the real you shine through is crucial to a strong voice. The reader gets a great sense of you, the author, and what kind of person you are. Maybe you have an irreverent voice and you're always railing against the status quo. Maybe your voice is comedic, and your readers laugh right along with you as you tell tales of office politics to make a point. Maybe your voice is gentle, quiet, and kind, and the reader feels drawn in to hear what you have to say.
If there's a type of voice you're most attracted to (be it irreverent, wickedly funny, gently humorous, kind, irate, political, you name it), you'll write more passionately if you use that voice. Practice writing something from different voices. Have an article on communicating well within an organization? Try writing it with a humorous voice, and then rewrite using a different voice. Soon, you'll find a voice and a rhythm that appeals to you.
2. Good writing is strong. Good writers choose a stand and believe in it. If your writing is filled with “I think" and “I guess" and “I believe" and “it seems, " you come across as wishy-washy. Take those words out and stand firm. Say what you believe and believe what you say.
3. Good writing is original. You don't have to say it like everyone else does. You don't have to follow all the rules. You don't have to incorporate all the great advice you read in articles and books on writing (even mine!). Do it your own way and stand out from the crowd. If you're like everyone else, what would make people gravitate toward you? Give them a reason to pick you.
4. Good writing is authentic. You're not the answer for everyone, and not everyone is going to be attracted to your stuff. However, if you write authentically, then you have a better chance of people sticking around to see what you have to say. It's basic Law of Attraction.
5. Good writing is passionate. Enjoy what you're writing about. Write from the heart. Be passionate. If you like humor, be funny. If you like word play, add a few puns. If you're thrilled with what you're doing, let that joy come out in your writing.
Writing well isn't a trick or a gift that only a few are blessed with. It does, like everything else, take practice. Writing is not just a talent; it's a skill that can be learned and practiced, just like playing an instrument. May you play your instrument, your writing, well.
© 2008, Dawn Goldberg and Write Well U.
Dawn Goldberg is founder and Chief Writing Officer of Write Well U, helping people improve their writing skills. You can find out more about Dawn, Write Well U, and all the programs and services to help you write well at http://www.WriteWellU.com