January 15, 2015

Blogging Voice: A Whole New Animal

I’m trying to find my blogging voice. I feel like I know my scholarly voice, and I’m decent at finding different voices for different fiction projects, but when it comes to blogging, I’m at a loss.

I like the idea of exploring the academic side of things when it comes to writing, which was kind of the point of starting this blog. But when I asked a couple of friends to read it, one said: “It sounds like a textbook,” which everyone knows is never a compliment. Another friend said, “It’s over my head, and I feel dumb reading it.” Since the entire premise of my blog is about starting a conversation (remember the parlor discussion?), I’m obviously failing.

I know there are things I like in other blogs that aren’t me—animated GIFs, for example. 

(There you go. Probably the only animated GIF I'll ever post.)

GIFs totally fit some peoples’ personalities and it works for them. Sometimes they lighten the mood of a post and make it more interactive, but mostly they drive me crazy and I have a hard time focusing on the content with too much movement going on. I also don’t write or eat tacos in my bed, and I never run around without pants on--all of which seem like prerequisites to being a writer, so I’m not sure where that leaves me.

All I know is that I need to find a happy medium between boring textbook writer and fun, GIF-y writer. That’s one of my goals this year, I guess.

Kind of funny story to go along with finding a distinct voice:

I proposed a conference class this year on voice. It’s a topic I’m pretty good at teaching, and I always got rave reviews on student evaluations about that topic, so I based my conference pitch on the class I’d taught. It was a solid pitch, and I was excited about it.

It was rejected.

When I got the finalized conference schedule, I figured out at least one of the reasons why.

#1. The title of my pitch:
Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Finding Your Own Style and Voice by Mimicking the Greats

#2. A class on the final schedule:
Amateurs Borrow, Professionals Steal: How Creative Fusion Fuels Great Stories

Pretty much the exact same premise, but which class would you rather attend? 100% #2, right? It sounds more fun and interesting, and it also takes the imitation a step further to implement the SO WHAT? of imitation. Anyway, it’s being taught by an author I admire, and I’m excited to take the class from her.

I’ve thought a lot about my own voice lately and my blog’s lack of likeability/relatability. Here’s a (non-writing) post I love that relates:

In the early years of my blog, I remember…things that fell firmly in the “meh” category – there was nothing particularly notable to write about, nothing that interesting. For someone trying to find their voice as a blogger, this was altogether excruciating. And so I tried everything in an attempt to see what clicked, what felt natural, and what did not.        

I published the occasional illustration, I made lists. I was at times emotional, at times snarky, at times altogether boring. In some respects I haven’t changed at all – I still experiment with the blog. I still toy with new concepts and try to be creative. I write the occasional haiku. But now, unlike then, I know exactly what my voice is. I know who I am as a writer. Hell, I might even know who I am, period.

She goes on about particular instances, and it’s a hilarious blog, but more than anything, it gives me hope that blog voice is its own distinct little animal that I will develop over time. Like other writing, it’s a skill I can develop if I stick with it.

Do you blog? Did it take you a while to find the right voice for your blog audience and what you were trying to accomplish?  Any tips for developing that voice?

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