Monday, October 25, 2010
Online Persona Workshop Week Four: Playing to Our Strengths
It’s not just about who we are and what we have to say, although that is a large part of it. The key to making this work for you is to have it spring naturally from your authentic self. Which means using our writing strengths to feed the online persona.
So, do you know your writing strengths? This week’s exercise is to write down what you think your top five writing strengths are.
The second part of the exercise is to think of three trusted people who know your work well. They can be writing group members, critiquers, beta readers, your agent, fellow writers. When they give you feedback on your writing, what do they say your writing strengths are? Your voice? Your use of language, humor, ideas, storytelling?
If you and your writing buddies/partners/group haven’t discussed this before, pick two or three people who know your work well and ask them what they think your core writing strength is.
Compare your list to theirs and see if there is a consensus.
The reason this is important in terms of your online persona is this:
To keep people coming back, your blog/FB page/Tweets will need to do one of the following:
Your writing strengths will go a long way in determining which of those approaches will feel most natural for you.
Some blog topics or angles will only work if someone has a dynamite unique voice. It’s the WAY they tell it that makes it fascinating.
For others it will be their ability to CONNECT emotionally on the subject matter, or bring INSIGHT to the topic. Or perhaps simply they way they turn everything into a STORY of some kind.
To get a firm grasp on these different angles, go back to your own list of your ten favorite blogs that you like to read. Look at each one on there and ask yourself, Does the blog entertain me? Offer me much needed information and guidance? Give me strength and inspiration? Make me feel like I’m connecting with a larger community?
Which of those most closely match your writing strengths?
Some writers (and bloggers) have very distinct voices that come through loud and clear no matter what they’re writing about. No matter what they talk about, we’re entertained.
And then there are the rest of us. ☺
So for example, both here and on my personal blog, I think the ways I connect with blog readers are by informing and inspiring.
What I am sure about is that I am not entertaining. In fact, the mere idea of trying to entertain someone makes me freeze up, unable to think of a thing to say. I might be entertaining by accident, but pretty much never by intent, so writing an entertaining, voice driven blog is pretty much outside of my skill set.
That makes sense when I look at my actual writing strengths, one of which is, I think, my ability to slip inside wildly different skins and feel and be that person. It’s what allows me to write a 10 year old timid boy being dragged around the world by his intrepid aunt, a precocious eleven year old Edwardian budding Egyptologist, and a medieval teen assassin. So having a unique, defining, always recognizable voice simply isn’t one of my strengths.
But that’s okay because this exercise is about identifying what we DO have.
Do you love to research?
Are you totally obsessed with certain topics and consequently pretty keyed in to new developments and discoveries in that area?
Are you a lush, descriptive writer?
See things with a unique, unusual perspective?
These are just a few of the different sorts of writing strengths people have. I would lovelovelove if people would feel comfortable talking about their writing strengths in the comments, because then we could talk about what sort of blog those strengths play to. But I also recognize that can feel awkward to talk about—especially out in the wide open internet. To help out with this, all those brave souls who DO talk about their writing strengths will be entered TWICE in this week’s drawing. How’s that for motivation?
However, if talking about your own strengths isn’t comfortable, maybe you could tell us if the blogs you are drawn to entertain, inform, inspire, connect, enlighten, or share. Or if they do something else entirely.
email me and I’ll get that out to you.
This week’s prize will be a copy of Made To Stick, a fascinating book about creating ideas that resonate, and that relates to the stories we tell. However, if you would rather have a copy of last week's The Hero Within, I’d be happy to send you a copy of that instead. Your choice!
*Methodology: I numbered the comments 1-10, skipping my own responding comments, then hit the ol’ random number generator.