For the Love…Of Blogging: Writing Wednesday

Welcome to Day 3 of For the Love…Of Blogging!

Today Miranda and I are going to stretch our English teacher wings on you guys and share some of what we know (and teach) about writing.

My topic is voice.

I used to have a big sign that a student made for me that read “Write Like You” in my old classroom.

And it’s really my mantra when writing any of my blogs.  I don’t want to sound like anyone else except Katie Sluiter.

When I posted my first vlog, someone told me she loved it so much because the way I talked match EXACTLY what she heard in her head when she read my blog.

That?  Was huge for me.

So how do you find your voice.  For me, it’s a combination of things.

1. Show Don’t Tell. Whether I am telling you about my PPD experiences, my miscarriages, my wedding, my job, or my son, I want you to feel like you are there with me.

I do this by closing my eyes and concentrating on the very core of what I am trying to talk about–the few moments that make up the big feeling.

Take this post for instance. I could have just told you about how my father-in-law had cancer and I was there to hear the diagnosis and it sucked.  But TELLING you would make you say, “yeah, that sucks.”  SHOWING you would put you in that room with me.  It would give you the feelings of those around me.  It would make you have the chills and then the sweats.

I want to take you to a place, a time, a moment.  Not just tell you a quick narrative.

Showing you my snapshot of life?

It would help you experience what I did. It would make my writing something you could relate to.  You would start making connections to things that made you feel that way.

I would be real to you.

Bloggers that are so very real (and serve as inspiration?)  to me that you should check out as examples?

Kris and Nichole are good places to start.  They are some of the very best Show Don’t Tellers on the internet.

2. Be honest.

You don’t have to spill all of your family secrets or tell us when your Lady Week is, but showing your readers that you are a real person: flaws and all, is a good thing.

I try to post my fails along with my successes.  Just this past Saturday I confessed that I am not always a good friend. I also let my kid watch TV and I didn’t think being a mom meant living in a state of toy chaos.

Sharing your honest joys AND fears AND fails?  Creates a person.

Some of my favorite REAL peeps?  There is Blair who lovingly puts it out there…ALL out there.  There is also Adrienne for whom I have so much love.  She is real and honest and I love her. And of course there is my etwin, Miranda who pours her heart out to her audience.  Lastly, Casey has always floored me for being so honest that I swear she is in my brain.

3. Seriously…write like YOU.

Once you start creating honest snap shots for your reader, you need to do it using YOUR voice.  Don’t try to imitate others.  Maybe you have your own phrases or a unique writing structure (I tend to do short paragraphs and minimal words) or distinct tone (sarcastic, funny, sensitive…whatever your personality is)…the key is to be YOU and not someone else.

I have been told that this post where I hate on Wal-Mart drips of Katie.  (I also try to show and not tell…even though it’s a story).

Bloggers who amaze me with their unique style?  Who I would totally know out of a blogging line up?

Kimberly might have a bad back, but she has a wicked sense of humor that amazes me.  And I would know CDG from a pile of blogs any day…her writing is AWESOME.   And please?  Lori could hide behind…well…she couldn’t hide from me.

4. Write what you know.

You are an expert at your life.  You are an expert at YOU.  Write about that.  Don’t dabble in things you can’t speak of.  I know nothing about breastfeeding or cloth-diappering.  I did neither.  I will be starting zero posts about those things.

I don’t know much about html or SEO or feeds.  I will not be giving you tips on those.

I know about my life.  I know about MY ppd (not yours).  I know about writing.  I know about ME.

That is what I will be writing about.

And you should write what YOU know.

Bloggers who write what they know (and do it well)?  Gigi knows a lot about a lot (I swear…she is like the Cat in the Hat of blogging).  Lindsey is another someone I feel always writes what she knows…her family, her blog, her life…and does it well.  The Empress is also someone I feel like is an “authority” because of her blogging style.  which I dig.

These rules could easily be a series of posts each.  This is just the nitty gritty of what it takes to have a good writing voice/style.

For today’s blog hop (which is located at Miranda’s blog)…I want to encourage you to explode a moment…give your reader a snapshot from your memory. I love the idea of exploding a moment so much, I started a blog just to do that (yes, I am plugging myself here, what?).  So give it a try.  Need ideas?  Look at this or this or this.  All posts where I gave the readers a snapshot through my words.

And don’t forget to head over to Miranda‘s…she will show you some of the more technical stuff about writing that will make it more readable and flowy (she is better at the organizational stuff than I am…by far!)

So what do you think?  Good tips?  Hard challenge?  Did I leave out your favorite bloggers?  Talk to me!

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About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I love that way of writing, your examples were fantastic ones.Your post about your father in law was really strong I did feel like I was there. I’d love to try to do this more often, but it does take a lot out of you, doesn’t it? (Emotionally I mean) I’m really hoping to get better at this with practice.

    • It DOES take a lot to write something like that! But they don’t all have to be so heavy. My Wal-Mart post was something I sat down and did in 20 minutes. Not everything on the blog has to be super heavy…goodness we would ALL be emotional drained all the time! 🙂 But yes, it definitely takes practice to have show don’t tell type writing come naturally.

  2. Fab advice to all of us bloggers, thank you! *hands teacher an apple* Off to peruse the other sites you’ve mentioned with a studious gaze…

  3. Your tips? Are going up in my classroom. Not even kidding. I’m going to get the posterboard from the supply closet right now. And then I’m commissioning a student from last year to make me a poster.

    I LOVE THIS.

    • Thank you! That is such a huge compliment coming from a fellow English teacher! I am all sorts of giddy now! And I may be blushing a bit. 🙂

  4. Oh, man! I know exactly the moment I want to explode. And I want to go and read ALL these posts. But I have to go to work! I will be back.

  5. I whole heartedly agree that when you write from that place on your soul that harbors the truest and rawest feelings, you could never go wrong!
    Great tips Love 🙂
    PS. Thanks for the shout out!

  6. THUD.

    that is all (said in teeny tiny voice..)

    also? emailing you now.

  7. #1 speaks to me…it speaks volumes. Thank you for this – it’s something that I’ve been trying to figure out how to do, and you just simply gave me the answer.

    Also? This is going up on Saturday again!

    • ack!! Natalie! You are making me feel all celebrity-ish! you better watch out… I might get a big head about it! 🙂

  8. So… what you’re saying is that I should write like myself? 🙂 Great tips!!

  9. Agree – great tips.

    I can always tell when I’m going the wrong direction in a post because I start drifting away from the real me. And it’s amazing how it shows. Honesty always resonates.

    You obviously have fantastic taste. I’d love it if you stop by my blog sometime (we’re not worthy, we’re not worthy. . .).

  10. I saw your frustrations on Twitter, so I had to come find out what was going on in the Sluiter Nation! This series sounds great! I like your tips. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 (I hope the drama subsides soon…)

  11. “Explode a moment” is my very favorite thing I’ve heard ever in the history of forever.

    I love that.

    Your writing tips are primo. And inspiring.
    Gonna check out some of those links now…

  12. Great tip!! I have always loved English and writing. I had a wonderful English teacher my freshman year of high school that really lit the writing spark in me. You seem like that kind of teacher and I bet your students love you. I hope you can come visit my little blog sometime. I am really hoping to learn all I can so I can take it to the next level.

  13. I love that I can hear your voice through your writing. I can completely imagine what conversations would sound like, in a completely not-stalker-strango kind of way. 😉
    Great post! Thank you.

  14. Great post, you have a really strong voice
    XxX

  15. Katie, I love this post, and not only because you included me in “be honest,” which, as you well know, is my very favorite place to be and the thing I value most about blogging!

    You’re so right; finding one’s voice is critical. I can immediately tell when someone is trying too hard. You can never try too hard to write expertly crafted prose, but you CAN try to imitate others or write about the things you think people want to read. That never works.

    Your voice is so strong and so completely YOURS, you could never be unrecognizable. I never doubt that I’m reading the real you!

  16. Wow, your blog is great! Truly inspiring.

    I’m in awe of your writing. I can hardly string two words together these days (really bad baby-brain) plus I’m a virgin blogger.

    P.s. I’m not a stalker! (I’ve just followed you on Twitter and was reading some of your comments – I’ve not laughed like that for ages!)

  17. Katie, my post is up, and it’s honest. And I think it’s true to my voice. But if anyone comes judges me I’m coming back to blog smack you. 😉

    On an unrelated note, it’s so true that if it’s not true to your voice you should stop and try again. I was trying to write an article for another site last night and it wasn’t coming out. I gave up after a few short paragraphs. It’s just something I want to submit and see what happens, but if it doesn’t come that’s fine.

  18. This is fabulous thank you for sharing!

  19. Oh, Katie…thank you so very much for including me here.
    You are such a lovely friend and a truly gifted writer.
    ::blushing::
    Thank you so very much. 🙂

  20. Katie, your tips are great! Thank you. Your tips did help me and wrote out a post for today before I tried them on tomorrow’s. Thank you for the help!

    And by the way you are an amazing writer!

  21. Most of those bloggers you mentioned, I read and love and am inspired by their words time and again. That is what makes a real blogger (not SEO and all that other technical stuff) it is all about the writing.

  22. You are fabulosity and I’m so happy to know you!

  23. Great advice. Thanks! This was a really fun project! By exploding the moment, I realized that I had pretty much exploded IN the moment as well! What a fun way to relive something that would otherwise be forgotten.

  24. You, my friend, are a great writer. And a great teacher. I wish I’d been in your class, but since you’re younger than I am that would’ve been a trick too great for either of us to manage…

    Still, I’ve been wanting to compliment you on not only your beautifully written posts, but also on your willingness to share your skill with others.

    The ability to REALLY teach is as rare as real writing talent.

    And you have both. That is all.

    p.s. Going to check out your husband’s blog now. You two are too cute. And I love buttered toast.

  25. Katie, I was an English major/Creative Writing minor, and I can HEAR the English teacher voice in this post. Oh, the number of times we heard, “Show, don’t tell!”

    You know, blogging is more difficult than a writing critique group. They’re obligated to come back and work with you week after week. With a blog, if your readers don’t like what they see, if they get even a whiff of dishonesty, self-aggrandizement, or self-indulgence, they will not be back.

    Period.

    So your instruction to be honest is crucial. Your writing will have good days and bad days, but if your readers can hear your voice, they’re much more likely to hang around for more.

  26. Just foudn you today, what an interetsing post. At work so I have nto got time to read all the post you point to, but I’ll be back as I want to see more of this show don’t tell writing you talk of.

    Cheers, Mich x

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  2. […] For the Love of Blogging and before I post my snapshot of a moment, I want to add to Katie’s post about writing tips and having a voice. As a primary school teacher, I am always reminding my […]

  3. […] Wednesday, which is part of For the Love…of Blogging. Katie and Miranda have asked us to write today, and write well. This is my exploding […]

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