As PR pros, we spend a lot of time writing in the voices of our clients or their brands. But becoming a more skilled writer requires becoming strong in your own voice too. How, then, does someone who spends her entire day writing for someone else strengthen her own voice? By the usual way one improves: spending time to cultivate it.
While a lot of the writing that we do here at the Bradford Group is business-oriented, writing itself is a muscle and should be stretched in different ways. It may not seem entirely logical, but writing of any kind can improve the writing process significantly. And, in some cases, it can really pay to get outside of one’s writing comfort zone. Over Nashville’s long winter months, I took a creative writing course. I was surprised to find that being forced to write in a different form outside of work actually made the words flow from brain to page more easily while I was at work. Whether it’s writing in a diary, creatively or just taking some time to jot down ideas, writing daily is a surefire way to get in touch with your own voice as a writer and improve efficiency while writing professionally.
I hear an excuse often: I spend all day writing, so the last thing I want to go home and do is write some more. I’m guilty of this one, too. A fun way to inspire writing outside of the office is to maintain a personal blog or website. Blogging allows you to stay in check with your personal voice—it should be an opportunity to express yourself and practice different types of writing styles. Also, because blogging regularly is the easiest way to build a following, it keeps you accountable to practicing frequently.
Stuck in a writing rut? Can’t seem to get your fingers moving on the keyboard? Try a writing prompt. A quick Google search for “writing prompts” and you’ll find endless options asking you to describe something in detail or to write a quick paragraph about an interesting experience you’ve had. Regardless, all will keep your writing brain thinking out-of-the-box and help you to refine your personal style over time. Breaking up your day with a random creative exercise also helps loosen up your thoughts and get good ideas flowing. Plus, they only take a few minutes.
And, as if you don’t hear it enough, reading is often the best way to become a better writer. Reading of any kind—fiction, non-fiction, journalism—exposes the reader to various types of writing styles, enhances vocabulary and improves writing speed. Try highlighting sentences that are both informative and brief. Or try looking up words in the dictionary as you come across them and don’t know their definitions. By taking time to explore different writers and their own writing styles, you’ll develop a preference, which may match what you’d like your own voice to resemble. Reading, most importantly, keeps words top of mind. And that only seems appropriate considering we’re in the business of composing together words that “create contagious conversation that build brands.”
Working in the media industry, particularly public relations, it’s crucial to continue growing as writers. That can be a challenge if we spend a significant amount of time writing in only one or two different styles. Becoming more acquainted with what your personal writing styles are, and taking the time to develop them, benefits us by making the writing process easier and benefits the client by ensuring that they’re getting materials from a true writing professional.