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How to find your authentic voice

 

Vol. 6, No. 5, 28/7/2005

From the editor, Yvette Nielsen

After 25 years, I returned to university last week as a nervous new
student ready to explore a lifelong passion - art.

The class title, Finding Your Visual Voice, appealed. Despite spending
most of my career extolling the benefits of honest writing, I've forgotten
how to express myself honestly through other media.

Art is a whole other language for communicating. As with writing,
technical skills are only half the story. The real challenge is hearing
your own voice over the loud stories in your head borne of fear,
inhibition, self-consciousness, habit, perfectionism, laziness or
socialisation.

Just speaking plainly and openly is challenging enough let alone writing
authentically, particularly if you've constricted your style to suit the
culture around you.

Academic, corporate and government writers must take extra care to protect
their personal voices from being steadily strangled by gobbledygook,
jargon
and political correctness.

I've landed in hot water more than once for speaking out, both verbally
and in text. (Long-term readers will remember the ramifications of sharing
my views on Mr Murdoch
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/extras/newsletters.asp?id=92) and September 11
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/extras/newsletters.asp?id=128) .)



(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/extras/newsletters.asp?id=128) I suspect the
trick to creating honest art, as with honest writing, is to just be
yourself and pretend nobody will ever see your work.



Working quickly often helps jammed-up writers as does writing about a
passion. If you don't have conviction about your subject matter, forget it
- you can't fake "authentic" voice.

Yvette (mailto:yvette@brizcomm.com.au)


PS don't forget to read the new examples of atrocious writing on my "Cut
The Crap (http://www.livejournal.com/users/crapblog/) " web log - and
please do send me any gems you find (good or bad)

PPS check out my bizarre new e-booklet, Odd Bods
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/shop/) , and sanity-saving Web Project
Planning Kit (http://www.brizcomm.com.au/shop/)

(http://www.livejournal.com/users/crapblog/)


Web content tip

It's difficult enough to find yourself let alone be found by others among
the billions of web sites and blogs out there.

While drumming up links for a client, I decided to revisit some of the
search engines and human-edited web directories popular in the web's
infant years.

Not surprisingly, most have been gobbled up by cyber-sea big fish Google
and Yahoo. In fact, if you can rank well with the majors, you're likely to
rank well with the rest.

Don't bother spending hours submitting to the hundreds of obscure search
sites and "free for all" promotion services. Just do a solid job with the
big five -

* Google
* Yahoo
* Open Directory
* search.msn.com
* about.com

Other than that, try to create great, accessible content (including ALT
text and page titles and descriptions) and the search engines and
directory editors will follow.


At your service

Need an excuse to go to the snow? Book a place at my two public workshops
in Canberra (the ski fields are just two hours' drive away -

E-newsletters and Blogs
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops/overview.asp?id=2) on Wednesday, 10
August
Online Writing and Editing
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops/overview.asp?id=3) on Wednesday, 17
August

Can't make it but have questions about web sites, e-newsletters, blogs,
e-learning, intranets or some other online publishing project?

Need an objective site critique or plain-English advice on information
architecture, navigation, usability, strategy, design and layout,
e-marketing, writing and editing...?

Email me (mailto:yvette@brizcomm.com.au) now to discuss your needs for
coaching, consulting or training services
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/consulting/) .

Consulting services - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/consulting/



Email tip

Beware of authentic-looking emails from big name brands seeking personal
or financial details - you could be a victim of "phishing".

"Phishers" use real-looking emails to masquerade as reputable
organisations and lure hapless customers to fake web sites. The messages
often ask you to update your records or verify your username and password.
Basically, the writer wants to steal your identity, money, records and,
sadly, your confidence online.

Real organisations generally call you by name, not "dear member" or
"customer", and are unlikely to ask you to double-check sensitive
information via email.

If in doubt, forward suspicious mail to the organisation allegedly seeking
the information.

Anti-Phishing Working Group - http://www.antiphishing.org/



NEW in the shop

* Web Project Planning Kit (includes my own tried-and-trusted
Pre-Development Questionnaire, Web Requirements Kit, and Content Inventory
Template

* Odd Bods E-booklet (50 of the most bizarre web sites about the human
body)

* Pollyanna (kitchen wisdom, humour and nostalgia from a 'silver surfer')

Find out more... - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/shop/



Readers write

Thanks to those of you who shared your smoking stories in response to the
last newsletter (http://www.brizcomm.com.au/extras/newsletters.asp?id=168)
-

"Interesting newsletter. I quit smoking five years ago. (It only took me
15 years to do it.) I have since then had acute writer's block. When I
can write, my work's still good, maybe better -- although I don't think
quitting smoking had anything to do with that. But it's harder, a lot
harder (I hope this sentence makes it past the spam detectors) without a
cigarette between my lips and another one or two burning in the ashtray."
- Ron from West Hollywood, US

"As a lad struggling to think of a plan to quit passive smoking, I thank
you for your efforts and wish you all the best with the transition and
good health to come! :)"
- Ben B.

"Thanks for the bulletin - good luck with the (non) smoking!"
- Chris M, London

"I gave up many years ago – ‘cold turkey’. The only way to do it is to
carry a handful of minties in your pocket, and when u feel the urge, pop a
mintie. It will relieve the craving and take your mind off the smoke as
your mouth is engaged in another activity."
- Pete R, Brisbane

"This latest newsletter is absolutely great!! I had absolutely no idea of
how much Writers could be paid, so you have spurred me on with the writing
I have been playing around with!!! Keep up everything, and don't worry
about the smokes, because if you feel like one, just do it, after all why
get stressed???"
- John T

"Nice to see you're still out there doing your stuff."
- Julie, Brisbane

"It is very good to see that you have the strength to at least have a go
at quitting those cancer sticks. I have not had to take those steps as I
do not smoke. I do not need them plus I cannot see the sense in watching
my
hard earned money just going up in smoke in front of my eyes.
Congratulations again & I hope you can kick the habit for ever."
- Bazz

"Love your newsletter...There was an episode of Absolutely Fabulous where
Patsy was trying to quit, and she had nicotine patches plastered all over
her body. Unfortunately, they all absorbed the nicotine out of her skin
and then they all fell off...Hopefully you're not at that stage yet!"
- Nick, Canberra


Surf Club (web site reviews)

iSerenity (http://www.iserenity.com/) Escape from the noise in your head
or office and enter a virtual web-based "environment". Choose images and
sounds from the collection including a summer's day, waterfall, crackling
fire, streets of New York and white noise. Use it to relax, wake up, block
out noises or mask private conversations.
In a net shell: Relax.

Sudoku (http://www.puzzle.jp/letsplay/sudokuruleflash-e.html)
Keep your brain oiled with the online version of the latest newspaper game
craze. Sudoku is a deceptively simple numbers puzzle originally from
Japan.
The goal? Each number must appear only once in each row, column and 3x3
block. Easy, right?
In a net shell: Challenging.

Virtual Guitar and Chord Book (http://www.chordbook.com/)
Learn new guitar chords with an interactive Flash-built guitar that lets
you strum, listen, see finger positions, apply a capo, mute strings and
quick tune. Access 1000-plus chords or make your own then save to your
personal chordbank. Learn to play scales and improve your lead solos with
the guitar scales generator.
In a net shell: Hit it.

More web site reviews - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/surf/default.asp



Reader choice

The AE1 - Australia's First Submarine (http://www.ae1submarine.com/)
Delve into the mystery of the submarine that disappeared without a trace
in 1914.
- submitted by Peter J Richardson, Brisbane

Cold Remedies From The Cupboard
(http://www.yzage.com/yztimes/Website%20reviews/read?a=123&tid=2)
Find natural remedies at home.
- submitted by Wally


Food for thought

"Honesty is when there is harmony in what you think, say, and do." -
Gerald G Jampolsky.

More quotes & jokes - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/freetips/



Top links from last issue

(http://www.waveofdestruction.org/)

Cut The Crap web log (http://www.livejournal.com/users/crapblog/)
Optimal Breathing (http://www.breathing.com/)

Working Title movies (http://www.cuechamp.com/working_title.htm)


Friends and sponsors

Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra (http://www.sakya.com.au/)
Home of Lama Choedak Rinpoche, one of the few meditation masters in
Australia. The Society supports the teachings and meditation practices of
Tibetan Buddhism, in particular those of the Sakya Lineage, as well as
promoting Tibetan culture in general.

Inspiring Leaders and Advancing Women (http://www.deborahmay.com/) Two
great new e-newsletters from Australian organisational development expert
Deborah May packed with practical tips, advice, encouragement and support
to help you achieve your potential at work.
(http://journoz.com/) WANT TO SWAP LINKS OR ADVERTISE HERE?
Email yvette@brizcomm.com.au (mailto:yvette@brizcomm.com.au)


Client testimonials

Comments from recent clients -

"Your independent assessment of our web site confirmed a number of our
suspicions and raised a few important considerations to take us to the
next step. Thank you for both the quality and the promptness you fulfilled
our request. It was an important first step in a major re-evaluation of
our
web site." - Michelle Bryne, Corporate Communications Manager, Newcastle
City Council.

“Yvette created a supportive atmosphere where no question was too stupid
to be asked. She was very approachable and easy to listen to - speaking in
plain English without any jargon.” - Communication Officer, Brisbane.

"Yvette has the uncanny ability to make complex issues sound simple and
interesting at the same time. I couldn't wait to get back to working on
our web site - I was left bursting full of ideas." - Senior Communication
Officer, State Government

Accelerate the learning curve and save time, money and frustration - book
your workshop (http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops/) , critique
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/consulting/) or coaching
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/consulting/) session with Yvette
(mailto:yvette@brizcomm.com.au) today.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Remember, this newsletter is shareware. If you found value in it, please
forward a copy to a friend or colleague and suggest they sign up. Cheers.


[Send to Friend link]
(http://www.vision6.com.au/vemail/mail/friend.php?id=0&k=e109eed)

Yvette Nielsen, Editor - phone 61 (0)41 771 8683
37 Hannan Crescent Ainslie ACT 2602 Australia

© 2000-2005 Brizcomm Pty Ltd

We accept no responsibility and disclaim all liability for any incorrect
information in articles, sites or events in this newsletter. If links do
not work, try again later - sometimes the host server for a listed site
might be down temporarily. Privacy policy
(http://www.brizcomm.com.au/privacy.asp)

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