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Dealing with Passive Voice and Discouragement

social-1206612_1280Information: Always Avoid Passive Voice

When did you last hear a sermon on the evils of passive voice? I’ve heard plenty of instructors and workshop leaders preach it, but I never expected to hear it from a geeky SEO company. Yoast, the creator of Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, is a company that specializes in SEO. See definition here. In their latest newsletter, they emphasized the need to avoid passive when writing blog posts. Somehow, it affects your search engine optimization (SEO). The whole thing is explained on their site here. They even include examples, so take a minute to visit the site.

We often read articles that unapologetically use passive voice. Sometimes the writer does not want to identify the person taking action. I recall statements from political leaders such as: “Mistakes were made.” Obviously, someone made the mistakes, but the writer accuses no one. So, I guess passive is useful in some contexts.

But, most writing teachers will tell you to stay away from passive. In fact, an article on the Hamilton College website lists passive voice among the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing. And it’s Number One! Check out all seven deadly sins here.

Inspiration: Dealing with Discouragement?

It’s a fact of the writing life. Writers become discouraged, even to the point of giving up. We network with other writers to encourage each other. Sometimes we get encouragement from our readers. But, how about this?

The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength. Warren Wiersbe.

Dr. Wiersbe is former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, former contributing editor for Baker Book House, author of numerous books on the Christian life, and contributor to Back to the Bible radio broadcasts.

Readers, do you have problems with passive voice creeping into your writing? Are you now or have you ever been discouraged? How do you handle it? Comment on this post and share thoughts. If you get this post by email, please click on the title of the post to go to my site. Scroll down to Leave a Reply and comment there.

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6 Responses to Dealing with Passive Voice and Discouragement

  1. Dianne E. Butts October 8, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Hi Emily. Years ago when I started writing I, too, kept hearing to avoid passive voice. But I didn’t know what that was! So I did some research to figure it out. Knowing that other writers struggle with the same thing, I put what I learned into a small e-book on Kindle. If you don’t mind me sharing the link, some readers might find it helpful. It’s only $.99.

  2. Emily Akin October 8, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    Thanks, Dianne. I’ll mention your e-book in next week’s post to be sure all my subscribers will see it.

  3. Lee Ann October 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    Thanks so much for the post about discouragement. I am really struggling with it…haven’t written since Before KY Christian Writer Conference this past June..

    Lee Ann from Cincinnati

  4. Emily Akin October 14, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for sharing your feelings, Lee Ann. I didn’t get to come to the conference this year, and I really missed it. I tend to wait for inspiration before I write anything down. But, “they” say we should be determined to “just write.” I’ve tried that, and it does work. Sometimes, I’ll end up with several topics in one document, but I can always use the material in some way. Keep on keeping on, I guess.

  5. Cecelia Lester October 16, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Emily: I had to realize that I could say things better with active verbs. It is something I recently realized. Thank you for your wisdom.

  6. Emily Akin October 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    I always go back to William Zinsser’s quote: “Omit needless words.” Almost every time I work on removing passive voice, I find that I use fewer words, too, which means I omitted the needless ones. Thanks for your interest.

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