How To Be An Authentic Writer

How To Be An Authentic Writer May 26th, 2016, by Matthew Setter

If you’ve ever looked at a lot of modern writing, especially in either business or politics, you’ll know that it’s often anything but authentic.

It’s usually either so researched and over-polished, or disingenuous as to the point of absurdity. Yes, it’s attempting to sell a product or service, or disseminate a talking point to an electorate. But it’s very rarely authentic

That’s what I want to talk about today.

For a long time, I wrote exactly this way, because I wanted to be taken seriously, and believed that both business and politics were serious professions.

I studied what business people wrote and how politicians weaved words as smooth as silk.

The Writing Lacked Any Soul

But over the years, a consistent feeling, a constant irritation dogged me. They way these people spoke, and the words which they wrote were devoid of any soul.

That’s right — nothing they wrote, nor a word they spoke had any soul, any depth, nor any character. They lacked conviction and they lacked any humanity.

Is it little wonder that both these professions don’t have the same air of respect that they once did?

After this understanding had taken hold, I began to gravitate elsewhere for my inspiration, to places which gave me the warmth, the sincerity, and the conviction which I believed should be at the heart of how we communicate with one another.

You Need To Find Better Heroes

I started finding new heroes, heroes such as Stephen King, William Zinnser, Ernst Hemingway, and David Ogilvy.

These heroes gave advice that I keep reviewing, sometimes on a daily basis. Advice such as:

Ernst Hemingway

Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can

Stephen King

Don’t worry about making other people happy

William Zinnser

Don’t make lazy word choices: “You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive

David Ogilvy

Write the way you talk. Naturally

They encouraged me to be authentic, to value brevity over verbosity, and to be audacious in my writing. These are essential character traits for any writer, especially freelance writers.

They’re essential characteristics!

They build trust with our readers. They show that we’re human, just like they are. They show that we take the time to care, about our subject matter, how we present it, and ultimately about them.

They show that we have a heart and that we’re willing to invest it in our writing, which is the medium by which we connect with others.

Writing Is About Being Fully Human

Because that’s what writing is; whether it’s technical, fiction, romance, or any other genre; it’s about communicating with another human being.

Unlike a business, we’re a living, breathing organism. Unlike a politician, not everyone expects us to lie, as a natural matter of course.

We’re a living, breathing person, someone who makes mistakes, someone who has adventures, someone who gets excited over the most seemingly tiniest of things.

So that’s what I want to encourage you to do when you’re writing. Don’t hide your humanity away. Don’t remove it from your writing, leaving only the barest of husks behind.

Imbue it with character, with soul, with conviction - with YOU! In so doing, you’ll have no challenge being authentic. By investing these qualities in your writing, you’ll automatically be authentic.

CC Image (background of main image) Courtesy of Nilufer Gadgieva on Flickr


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