I'm Matthew Setter. I'm a security researcher, privacy advocate, and a software engineer. I’ve been developing software since 2000. This blog is focused on helping you write more secure software and protect your online privacy.
How To Be An Authentic Writerwriting May 26th, 2016
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
These heroes gave advice that I keep reviewing, sometimes on a daily basis. Advice such as:
Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can
Don’t worry about making other people happy
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
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.
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