“But how can I tell if my blog posts are coming through in my voice?”
Quite the abstract question, isn’t it?
If I were a mean and sneaky person, I could probably type out long, lofty, indecipherable responses that would leave clients baffled; responses riddled with circular logic (“you know it’s your writing because you know yourself, so you’ll always recognize it because you know it because you know yourself…”), Yoda-speak (“There is no tell. Only know. Place in heart I ask you to write from, and truth you will find.”), or half-baked, recycled advice (“Meditate every morning. Whatever you write immediately after you meditate will always, always, always be in your voice.”)
Now, since I’ve been working on a project that makes me tingle and bounce on my toes whenever I talk about it (I’m re-vamping all Invincible Summer course materials and turning them into an ebook, set to release in September!), I decided to write up a list of a few of the main ways I know that my current project has truth and depth, that it’s coming straight from my core to the page.
- How do you/did you feel when you were writing it? If you felt especially ecstatic, or especially peaceful, lost track of time, or felt so damn excited when you were done that you printed every page and read it fifteen times, then you can be pretty sure it’s in your own voice. If the writing felt like pulling teeth, it may not be your best, and it probably won’t sound like you.
- Read it out loud and really listen to how it sounds. Do you feel like you’re delivering a speech to your 10th grade English class, or giving a frighteningly boring presentation at work? Does it sound like you’re bending your (actual, physical) voice so that the words sound natural as you speak them? (These are signs that your writing may not be coming straight from your heart). On the other hand, if the words drip from your lips like honey down the edge of a leaky jar, if they feel as natural as speaking, or if they just sound good in your voice, then, chances are, you’re writing straight from your core.
- If someone who knows you saw the piece, would they recognize it as yours? Whether you’re writing an article on economics or a short story about wild ponies, your work should be recognizable to the people who know you best. They might not recognize it immediately, but it should ultimately come out sounding familiar to them. If your work is coming from the center, they should have a good chance of guessing that it is yours.
Of course, the cliches all hold truth, as well. (Follow your star, chase your dreams, be honest, write dangerously, write like nobody ever has before.)
Do all of those things; but be practical, too. Check with yourself and with your writing buddies. It never hurts to make sure.
What tips would you add to this list? How do you evaluate your own writing for authenticity?