“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”
~ Dr. Howard Gardner, Prof. Harvard Univ.
“You’re a great story teller! You should write about your experiences.”
You’ve heard this so often that you decide to use those experiences to create a blog. You buy a domain name, install WordPress, and get your blog set up just the way you want it to look.
You sit down to write but the words come out flat, even phoney. You can’t quite infuse your writing with the same captivating authenticity with which you tell your stories in person. What is happening?
Could it be that you are missing the interaction with a live audience? Are you missing the furrowed eyebrows, fascinated faces or raucous laughter?
Without this immediate feedback, you may feel a like you’re in a void or have a persistent sense that “something is missing!”
This leads to you wondering if you are getting your message across. If you are lucky, you receive feedback in written comments or email replies. But sometimes, you might not get any feedback at all. Uncertainty begins to creep in.
When your writing voice feels forced or you’re uncertain, you begin to lose confidence.
Where is that voice that can hold an audience with ease?
Looking in All the Wrong Places
When I began writing articles for guest blogs, finding my voice became a challenge. I never had this problem telling my stories in person. In fact, I am a pretty good storyteller and a pretty good writer. So now that I was sharing my story with others, what was the problem?
To get to the bottom of it, I hunted for answers. I tried free worksheets which guided me to focus on my target audience, my passion, my product and how I was different. I read articles about finding your voice.
I followed all the advice, but my writing was still wordy and felt stilted. I became disillusioned.
Three Secrets Great Writers Know
Finally, with the help of a few people (one a super writing coach) and my own intuition, I discovered what other writers know about telling their story.
Secret #1: Write for Your AudienceMuch like telling a story in person, you have to be aware of who your audience is online.Click To Tweet
In audience-based marketing, you are writing for a specific client. So keep that client in mind! Other things to be clear about are the problems you are solving for them and how they feel about those problems.
When you are clear about who you are writing for, what their problem is and how you are solving it, then your message will be relevant.
That was my problem: I temporarily lost sight of my target audience and their issues. No wonder I wasn’t sure about my message!
Secret #2: Trust Your Inner Voice
Reading other bloggers’s work is great for inspiration and information. But at the same time, if all you do is absorb other bloggers’ styles, you run the risk of loosing your own message and voice. Your own message and your own voice need to shine through. Learning to listen to that feeling that says, “Something isn’t quite right here” is important. That intuition or inner voice is usually correct.
Listening to your inner voice takes practice and trust. A great way to start is to recall all the times you didn’t trust your intuition and regretted it. This will help you to notice signals you missed in the past. Those signals could be a feeling, a voice, a thought, repetitive thoughts or words or dreams.
The next time you get that feeling or thought, trust it and follow what it tells you. The more you listen and act, the stronger your intuition will become. And the stronger your intuition, the more naturally your own message and voice will flow in your writing.
All my life I have tried to listen to this inner voice. When I don’t listen, things get messed up. When I listen to my authentic self, everything begins to flow.
Secret #3: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Every day, you’re reading and commenting on several blogs. As you read you may wonder when – or if – your writing will ever sound that great! This kind of wondering lets doubts creep in. And once doubt creeps in, it’s hard to feel confident in your own writing.
Not long ago, I noticed that the more blogs I read, the less confident I felt about writing my own. I began to feel intimidated by some of those great pieces I was reading.
My confidence was restored when I finally sent off my first guest post – and it was published! I then had visible evidence that I did have a unique voice. And although it was inconsistent at first, over time the inconsistencies lessened.
Now, a few months down the road, I have an engaged readership who lets me know what they need. This is confirmation to me that, as a storyteller, I did find my writing voice.
Meeting the Challenge of Telling Your Story
Being a natural in-person storyteller is a great gift. But it can also lead to challenges as you struggle to convert your storytelling skills into an online writing voice.
The key that helped me in my journey was learning to see that writing, much like storytelling, has three elements that all come together and reflect your voice.
In writing, they are:
• Address your target audience and their problem.
• Trust your inner feelings to write from your own perspective.
• Avoid comparing your voice to another voice. Each is unique!
And of course, there is one final ‘secret:’ write, write, write! The more you write, the clearer your voice will become.
I still have times of doubt about my writing, but I now trust my overall feeling to let me know if I am on track or not. When an article flows out of me and onto the page with rapid ease, I know it is good!
Do you struggle to infuse your natural storytelling voice into your writing voice? How you know when your own writing is on target? Leave me a comment below and let me know!