In Your Own Voice

One of the problems we have as writers is feeling like we need to continually come up with something new to say.

The problem, of course, is that in so many ways there’s precious little that’s truly new, or that isn’t already being said by others. This is something that I had to face from the start with Ask Leo!. There were, and are, plenty of tech sites answering questions and providing information for the public — often about exactly the same topics I address.

What I learned is that as important as what you say is how you say it. That, in a way, makes it new.

Technology is a complicated space, and not every one who writes about it writes in the same way, or in a way that can be understood by everyone. It’s not at all uncommon to find several answers to the same question, for example. Some are wrong, some are poorly written, and some are written so technologically-dense that only geeks who’d never ask the question would understand the answer. Even good writing tends to appeal to certain subsets of readers.

And therein lies my opportunity — to focus on presenting the same information, sometimes even old information, in a way that appeals to, and is understood by my audience. The term I’ve used is to write in a way that’s accessible to my audience.

Yes, what I say is important. It’s important that facts be correct, and opinions well reasoned. But at least as important as what I say is how I say it.

I’ve often joked that sometimes I’m nothing more than a translation service for the Microsoft knowledgebase.  Re-stating the same information in my voice often adds great value, because it makes that information accessible to more people. My people.

What I find myself doing is not necessarily trying to come up with something new each day, but instead, something needed, and interesting, and valuable to my audience.

New? Or needed?

When deciding where to expend your energies, the later may often be more important than the former.