What is My Voice?

The Voice of a Blog

Every day there are a number of blogs that I read (hint: they are on the right of this post).  I don’t always have time to comment on them, but I still read them.  While surfing the blogs yesterday, one really caught my attention.  It was written by vjack over at Atheist Revolution.  He was discussing the importance of bloggers (and writers) to find their voice.  You can read his post here: Blog Tips: Find Your Voice.  I left a comment on his post yesterday, but haven’t stopped thinking about the topic and wanted to expand on it here.

I find myself in complete agreement with vjack, that finding one’s voice is paramount to being a successful blogger.  It will help to build your audience and will keep them satisfied and coming back for more.  That is all fine and well, the downside to this is that it can be really tough to find your voice.  I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about this over the last 24 hours and have come to a conclusion.  I don’t really have a voice.  I have voices.

Looking back over my posts I see two voices that have shared the spotlight.  The first is anger.  I want to flush that out a bit more.  By anger, I don’t just mean anger.  I would also include snarkiness, frustration, sarcasm, and annoyance.  These posts usually include me discussing something that I have read or watched.  They are often the posts where I criticize a politician, clergyman/woman, or pundit.  Something that they have said or done has angered, frustrated, or annoyed me and I write a snarky, sarcastic, and angry style post.  What is my goal with these posts?  It is often twofold.  The first is to express my anger (vent).  Second, it is often to point out hypocrisy.  I would like to point out, that I am rarely angry when I am writing.  It is not like I am sitting here with smoke coming out of my ears.  It is more that something has bothered me and I want to call other’s attention to it.  In a way it is reporting the news.

It should be noted that those posts can vary greatly.  Sometimes I am not doing much more than reporting.  Sometimes I am provided analysis.  Sometimes I am criticizing.  Sometimes I am correcting.  In any case, I would say that voice is one of anger/frustration.

The second voice is that I have is that of the calm, rational, inquisitive teacher.  I don’t like to get all pedantic, as my regular readers will know.  However, there are many posts where the anger is gone, and I am trying to explain something, or flush something out.  These are the posts where I may be explaining something about separation of Church and State, criticizing an aspect of theology, writing about science, writing about religion, writing about atheism, etc.  In other words, these posts do not have a specific target, which differs greatly from my “angry posts”.

In these posts I am either trying to learn something or trying to explain something. The goal is not reporting, but education.  It is my opinion, that either when learning or educating, there is little room for anger.  It only gets in the way.

I find that I oscillate between the two voices fairly regularly.  I will get on a kick (such as my previous three posts this week) that tend to be more of the angry/frustrated voice.  Then, things shift, and I get on a kick of the calm rational teacher type of posts.  (like this post—no anger here, just trying to flush something out).

The point I am making is this.  I think that there is a time and place for both voices.  I think there is a time for anger, snark, frustration and even mocking religion, religious figures, religious practices, etc.  There is a time to calm, rational, and inquisitive there as well—it all depends on the audience and subject matter.  There are other times where anger is very inappropriate, like this post.  I think, going forward that I will never have one voice.  I can see value in both of my voices at times.  I want to continue writing in both voices as they each have a purpose.  So long as I am using this blog to criticize, learn, and educate, I foresee two voices.

There is one last thing that I want to touch upon.  I strongly believe that the voice of the blogger greatly affects the voice of the comments.  One thing that is important to me is to respect as people all of my commenters, even if I do not respect their opinions.  This is why I have the type of comment policy that I do.  (See it above).  In this sense, I feel that a blogger is somewhat responsible for what is said in the comment section.  Surely, I cannot prevent any of you from writing whatever you want (other than deleting your comment—which I will not do), but I can encourage civil behavior.   I personally enjoy blogs where people can disagree respectfully, that is a voice that I try to maintain in the larger picture.  Do I succeed?

I am curious to know your thoughts on this.  Which do you prefer the angry voice or the calm, rational, inquisitive voice?  Which types of posts do you like better?  In which posts am I more effective in getting my message across?  If you have any other comments please feel free to share.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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5 thoughts on “What is My Voice?

  1. vjack from Hattiesburg, MS, United States

    Great point about multiple voices. I know exactly what you mean. I don't have a clear preference in what I read for the angry one or the rational one. I suppose my preference would interact with my mood at the time I read it. Like you said, there is a need for both. And besides, I don't think any of us should be confined by our most commonly used voice. I still like to try new things from time to time, and this may include experimenting with new voices.

    Reply
  2. Grundy from Buford, GA, United States

    I just commented on Vjack's post too. I described my aspirational voice, but I'm not sure if that's how I come across from an unbiased reader. I'd be curious to know what my readers think my voice is. I should ask sometime.

    To your point, use whichever voice strikes you. We all go through different moods and react to unique stories differently. Artificially making your voice consistent would probably degrade the blog. Keep it natural.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      The first adjective that came to mind when reading your comment and thinking about your blog is "witty". I often chuckle when I read your posts–yet, they have some bite to them as well, so it is not just humor. Witty is what comes to mind.

      I definitely "keep it natural" which is why I sort of drift all over the place.

      Reply
  3. hausdorff from Oak Park, MI, United States

    I think having multiple voices can actually make them more effective. If you are generally calm and collected, your angry post will be that much more significant and powerful. On the other hand, if you are always angry (like PZ) and you won't be able to use anger to draw attention to a post.

    It actually reminds me of my buddies in grad school, we were a bunch of jackasses making jokes about pretty much everything all the time, but one guy in the group was usually pretty quiet. When he said something funny, everyone laughed 10 times harder than if anyone else had said it.

    Reply

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