15 November 2012

Finding Your Power in Writing

blog, blogging, writing, genealogy, power words, family history, tools, technique
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We hear many pieces of advice every day, and the information is coming to us faster than ever. Writer's and "writing experts" talk about "finding your voice", and using impressive post titles to intrigue, and then capture, an audience. One article recently read indicated using "power words" to engage your readers. I have heard these bullet points listed for months, as recently as within this last week from comments left on my post, "SEO: Why It's Important For Your Blog", so I finally decided to put down my thoughts on the topic.

Personally, I believe that only time and practice will evolve you into the kind of writer you want to be. It is the only way to "find your voice". For me, this meant I needed to practice on eliminating the extra, filler words. The unnecessary. After reading through several of my posts over the past month's, (almost a year!), I can see the changes in my style, I can 'hear' my more direct nature coming across. In life, I am not a "beat around the bush" type of gal, and I see that reflected in my writing here.

The "power words": I had to delve into that a bit, as its been a while since my last Creative Writing class, and it was easy to find. Strong, emotional words that create an immediate connection with your audience. Use those in your title, use them in your Twitter and Facebook posts to direct traffic, use them every which way you can. Because when we read, we want to connect. We are looking to find something in what the writer is expressing the induces... anything. Whether its dread, sadness, anticipation, adrenaline, fear, anger or overwhelming awe.

And those are the words. Sensational. Lavish. Sly. (When was the last time you used 'sly' in a genealogy blog post?)

There are more than a few websites on the topic, so I will challenge you: find a great one, and share it here. I found "57 Power Words For Writing Brilliant Headlines" by Tiffany Monhollon, posted 1 Jul 2010 on Personal PR. I also found a series by Tonia Kendrick from Tonia's Roots, entitled "31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog", which I will absolutely be following from now on. She's already completed several posts, so I have some catching up to do. (How did I miss this?)

Let's be savvy bloggers, shall we? Find a great resource and let me know. Or not. I suppose you could keep it to yourself. But where's the fun in that?


  1. Jen, sometimes finding that writing "voice" is not an easy, one-article-will-inspire-it mission. I owe my allegiance to Malcolm Gladwell's "Ten Thousand Hour Rule." It takes time to shift from so-so to superb.

    1. Absolutely true, Jacqi, and if I implied otherwise, forgive me, it was not intended. Certainly, this is an ever changing and fluid medium, so growth and adaptation are expected. Perhaps I need to work on making sure I get to the point in my writing in a more concise way! What I was trying to say was that, ultimately, I believe its possible for each person to find their voice in writing, and I feel like I'm on a good wave right now in my own blog. I feel good about what I'm producing.
      Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting! ~Jen

  2. This is really a huge topic you've introduced, Jen! So many books are out there about "How to Write Better." I agree with you completely on two points: (1) It takes time and practice; and (2) Learn to be more direct and concise. Here are some classics: William Zinsser, "On Writing Well" (and other books on writing); Richard Lanham, "Revising Prose" (* I think you'd like this); Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird." All fun to read. And I'd add one more piece of advice: Read plenty of good writing. The writing craft is a lifetime pursuit . . . and even then you're still not finished!

    1. Thank you, Mariann. I have read "On Writing Well" (actually, twice now, recently) but not the other's, so I'll add them to my library list. I do find myself somewhat surprised at how much I've enjoyed writing this blog, and the others that I participate in, and how much it helps me clarify my thoughts both within the genealogy spectrum and outside of it. "Lifetime pursuit"... just like genealogy. Funny, that, and how much those two things intertwine... Thanks, as always, for commenting. ~Jen


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