H&B Insider’s guide: Developing your personal writing style

H&B Insider’s guide: Developing your personal writing style

Today’s consumers are caught in the undertow of information overload. Business intelligence firm Domo reported, “Every minute, Google receives 4M search queries, Facebook users share 2.4M pieces of content, and Twitter fans send 277,000 tweets.” If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The world is currently in a state of digital overload and data fatigue, leading readers to be extra selective with which articles they’re willing to read. How do you expect to get noticed? The secret for building a strong audience is by developing your personal writing style. If you write the same fluff that everyone else writes, there’s no incentive for readers to pay any attention. Think of the radio shock jocks of the past. They didn’t become popular by focusing on middle of the road topics that appeal to a the majority. They had brash, unpopular opinions and they focused on controversial topics to create a media firestorm. They In other words, they took a risk and put themselves out there. Now, there’s no need to go to that extreme in your writing. The point is to avoid over-censoring yourself and turning your writing into a bland article of unimpressive filler space. Here’s how to find your true voice and develop your personal writing style.

Choose a content muse

A key to creating amazing content is to model your writing after other authors that you enjoy reading their work. This is particularly helpful if you’re new to writing, or if you’re assigned to write about an unfamiliar topics. Notice how they arranged their ideas and provided concrete examples. Are you drawn to their humor and wit, or did they have a clever way of jazzing up an otherwise boring topic?  Pay attention to the words they use. Do they use flowery adjectives to paint a picture, or do they use evocative words to elicit an emotional response? Does the author speak directly to their audience or write in the 3rd person? All of these stylistic choices impact the reader, regardless of the subject of the content piece. Just like public speaking, a writer must grab the reader’s attention immediately and entice them to read on. Another popular option is to conduct interviews of influential people or invite guest authors to share their ideas on your site.

Read as much as possible

I’ve heard several times that the key to becoming a better writer is to be an avid reader. Reading helps improve your writing by expanding your knowledge and making you more aware of your own writing styles. Reading also expands your vocabulary and reminds you to use a wider variety of words than you would in your daily life. In his novel Outliers: the Story Of Success, Malcolm Gladwell indicated, “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” This equates to about 10 years to build a proper expertise. A popular trend for 2016 New Year’s resolutions is to read a book per week, with the goal of being a much better informed person by the end of the challenge.

Hit the virtual classroom

The final way to develop your personal writing style is to brush up on your Journalism 101 skills. There are countless articles, online courses, and discussion forums devoted to writers. As much as writing is a personal process, there are definitely tips and formats that help you along the way. Strong writing has a distinct framework of how the topics are organized and how the information flows together. Add this to your unique voice and you’ve found the sweet spot of your writing style. It’s also important to make sure your work is free of grammatical errors because this is distracting to the reader and reduces your credibility instantly. Bookmark any sites that focus on grammar tips and reference them often when you’re unsure about the usage. Don’t forget to check the Thesaurus to find unexpected alternatives to common words.

Developing your personal writing style is the strongest way to break through the clutter of the digital overload. Learning to write is a process and it takes time to develop your unique voice. The most important thing is to commit to spending the time to develop your craft. Some say it’s best to write at the same time every day, but the mechanics of the writing process are up to you. When did your writing skills come into their own? Comment below and let us know your best tips for becoming an amazing writer.

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