Is What You Write Who You Are?
New writers live in fear. These passionate, but not yet experienced scribblers, are always terrified someone will read their latest article — if the writer finds the nerve to publish — and these readers then scream, “you are a fake, a pretender and are not a real writer at all.”
Many writers believe they were born to write, but then we fear our work just isn’t good enough to be published or read by the very readers we seek. We shake in terror that we might sound ignorant to a reader who knows our subject and who might comment we just weren’t prepared to write at that level.
We also obsess dreading the big mistakes missed by three late night edits that might make us look unprofessional. Was the punctuation right? Was that word really used properly? We want to be read, but we can’t stand the thought of being critiqued for the work we send out to the public in our name.
We all share this fear when it comes to our writing, and even the best of us — the ones who make their living creating art for the rest of us to savor — still have that deep seated insecurity that our latest work just isn’t what the reader is going to like.
We want to write to be read, but were afraid if we are read, we will never write again.
A symptom of this fear is writing in a voice that is not ours. Many new writers suffer from the belief that who would possibly read anything I write because I can’t believe my ideas or writing is good enough for an audience.
When this happens, we trade our authentic self by writing in the voice we believe the great writers might use, one that might get read because it represents a voice different from our own. We force big words hoping we sound intelligent or we posture using over the top ideas and concepts believing we are proving we are intelligent and that we belong in the writer’s inner circle.
The perfect illustration of this falsetto voice is found reading the work of many of the new poets. Every concept is overwritten, every word forced representing the best of a good thesaurus, every line a mishmash of pretention as the writer tries to sound like a voice of what the author believes a poet should sound like.
The voice of the admired poets, from Frost to Rupi Kaur to Bukowski, is always as if you were sitting at dinner and the poet was standing at the head of the table, or in Bukowski’s case, standing on a bar stool, and just telling you a good story or sharing an intimate thought. Nothing forced or contrived, just a wonderful mind sharing a glimpse of what they see and feel in life feeling like the perfect conversation.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a new writer and one seasoned by years of grinding is that the veteran writer has found his authentic voice and has given up all pretentiousness understanding that who you are is who you are. He or she writes in their own voice, true to how they think and how they function in the real world and has given up the falseness of trying to be something they were never meant to be.
Their sentences are short and expressive. Paragraphs are tight and usually just a few sentences, just as a give and take in conversation between friends. If these writers read their work aloud, it would flow as authentic with clarity and conveying the essence of a powerful thought with the lease words necessary
Great writing is great conversation. Writing that endures is you talking to your reader as if you were really just talking to a cherished friend. Your words, your voice, the authentic self, shared for all of us to see and experience. Read you work loudly to yourself. Does this sound like the way you would really talk or is it forced in a voice that isn’t the real you?
Your writing is you and should be a reflection of how you think and talk, not as a tribute to a writer you mimic or may not understand. Your authentic voice is simply you sharing the best of what you see and who you are.