Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways to Establish A Tone

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

As a writer, I think a lot about tone. Does any given essay/blog post/tweet that I write convey not just the meaning – but the attitude – that I’m after?

Setting a tone in writing is no less important than setting a tone in person. How we speak to other people and the verbal and non-verbal message we communicate to them often determines whether they want to listen to us, befriend us, or – dare I say it – be our children/siblings/parents/spouses.

With this in mind, I’ve chosen five bloggers I regularly follow whom I think have mastered  “tone” in their writing, which in turn makes them very inviting as people. In each case, I highlight what they bring to their blogs to cultivate this tone:

1. Curiosity. Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project is a must for anyone out there looking for concrete, practical steps to leading a happier life. Sometimes this means cleaning out a closet; sometimes reading more Virginia Woolf. But the main thing Gretchen communicates on her blog  is a deep and abiding curiosity about the world around her. From the diverse range of articles and blogs that she recommends on a daily basis to her willingness to try pretty much anything  – like singing in the morning – in order to see if it actually makes her happier, you get the sense that she is, at all times, drinking in life.

2. Community. Another hugely practical site is the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network, founded and managed by Deb Ng. A lot of people come to this blog for its diverse set of writing tips, as well as its amazing daily listings of freelance jobs. I come because Deb’s passion for building community is almost irresistible. It shines through her daily tweets which always begin with “Good Morning World” (usually followed by an observation about D.C. weather), as well as the way in which all of her posts are infused with an appreciation for- and commitment to – the community of writers she’s gathered around her.

3. Introspection. You’d be hard-pressed to read a single post on Colleen Wainwright’s glorious Communicatrix and not come away feeling that this was a person who was putting herself out there, for all to see, day in and day out. Laugh-out-loud funny – but also brutally honest – this is a “self-development” blog that succeeds in making you feel like you are accompanying the author on the journey, not just listening to her ex-post musings. Check out her trademark 21-day Salutes. (She’s in the midst of one right now.) They will convince you – if you needed convincing – that the examined life is definitely the one worth living.

4. Enthusiasm. Christina Katz’ Writer Mama blog brims with enthusiasm. Written by a team of “writer mamas,”  this blog offers writing tips, links to online writing classes as well as observations on the writing life. But what most stands out about the blog is the indefatigable Christina Katz herself, who sounds so genuinely enthusiastic about writing, parenting, networking and – above all – platform building, that it’s infectious. To Christina’s credit, she not only promotes her own work on the blog. She is also extremely generous about highlighting the success of her co-bloggers and former students.

5. Wisdom. It’s really tough to try and offer advice to other authors while being sincere and funny at the same time. But Nicola Morgan’s Help! I Need A Publisher! blog does just that. Nicola manages to somehow combine a strong dose of wit and “telling it like it is” with a lot of really smart advice. Read this post where Nicola reacts to the self-doubts of a struggling writer and see if you don’t find yourself laughing while also nodding your head in agreement.

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Image: Tone by Passetti via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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13 Responses to Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways to Establish A Tone

  1. uninvoked says:

    I wish I had the ability to speak the way I can write. Unfortunately there is no second draft in the verbal world. :-/

  2. LPC says:

    Colleen’s great, isn’t she?

  3. Deb Ng says:

    Thank you so much for the mention and for being part of my community. (It’s the NJ weather, by the way). I’m so happy I have a new blog to read!

    Without my community I wouldn’t be here. I enjoy learning from their experiences and sharing mine. I hope you won’t be a stranger!

  4. I’m bowled over. And humbled. And grateful, truly.

    What a glorious summing-up of what I’m trying to do. Thanks for the sweet, sweet clarity, not to mention to the love.

  5. Nicola Morgan says:

    Gosh! I’ve only just seen this – thank you so much! I was reading it and thinking what good points you were making and it didn’t occur to me that you were going to use me as an example. I’m so flattered. To be honest, I just love blogging on the subject of writing and publishing so it’s just me sounding off and having a lot of fun.

    Now must definitely go and read the other blogs you mention. And will add yours to my blogroll too.

    Thank you!

  6. Wow, I stumbled upon your blog thanks to Freshly Pressed and I’m so glad I did. You represent a genre of blogs that I enjoy reading. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  7. […] both she and Sedaris frequently perform their work on radio.) They are writers who have really honed their voice. And I’m sure that it took a lot of re-writing to get […]

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