4 Ways to develop authenticity in your writing

4 Ways to write with an authentic voice

A couple of weeks ago I attended a virtual staff meeting for a magazine I write for. The editor announced the assignments for the following week and all of us writers took turns calling dibs over content. The system is a fairly natural and smooth one because each of the dozen or so writers has a unique and authentic voice that is distinct from the others. We have the serious and thoughtful voice, the funny and snarky voice and the stepping up on a soapbox voice, which makes doling out the assigned work easy.

What makes a voice authentic? When a writer can compose an idea in specific way that demonstrates a distinct personality and style then that writer is using authenticity. It can be difficult to maintain a consistent voice for some writers. This week on Maine on the Blogs, we are talking about four strategies anyone can use to help create and maintain a sense of authenticity in written work.

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Write the way you speak

This advice may seem obvious, but if you try to write the way you would speak out loud then you can avoid the kind of self-edits that can dilute the personality of a written piece. Depending on what kind of project you have in front of you, you can easily imagine speaking to the intended reader.

Some tips to try include:

  • Changing the length of your sentences to reflect the way you would talk out loud. Mix up quick sentences with longer, more detailed ones.
  • Imagine talking to friend and then imagine talking to a colleague or stranger or authority figure. Notice how your tone changes? Use similar changes in your writing as well.

Write the way you think

If you’re an analytical thinker and you rely on logic, then write that way. If you tend to be a storyteller and you like you have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, then that is how you should write. Not only should you write in a similar manner to how you think, but you should also stick to topics that tend to excite you intellectually and creatively.

Some tips to try include:

  • Create a list of ideas and topics that make you feel excited to start banging away at those keys.
  • Identify what kind of writing style best fits your thinking style and begin to carve out a regular practice that can sharpen those particular writing skills.

Write first and edit later

I have to admit that I am terrible at following this advice. When I write I tend to edit as I go along, which inevitably changes and sometimes even ruins my overall points. Being able to relax enough to write out a messy first draft makes the final editing and proofing process so much easier when you have all of your ideas available on the page. When you spend a majority of your time editing out ideas as you write, you end up with a document devoid of wiggle room for improvements, so you end up doing a complete re-write. That is never fun.

Some tips to try include:

  • Set a timer for 20 minutes and just write — no matter what comes to mind. The goal here is not to create a readable and perfect draft, but rather to begin to get comfortable with purging your ideas.
  • Create a writing practice that includes letting a piece sit for a day or two before you look at it again with fresh eyes and the sole purpose of revising, editing, and proofing.

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Write about the things that move you

One beautiful part of writing is that it compliments your life experiences because it gives you the chance not only to recall them, but also to reexamine how your world view shifts and changes because of those experiences. Don’t waste your time writing about things that don’t move you. Not only will it be unpleasant, but your readers will suffer too.

Some tips to try include:

  • Seek out new experiences every chance you get. Use writing as an excuse to do things that put you in interesting situations.
  • Use your life experiences to shape your writing. This is how your unique and authentic voice will shine through. Your readers will thank you for it.

Creating and maintaining an authentic writing voice comes out of time and practice. Be bold enough to let your personality reveal itself with your words, but be wise enough to shape those words into a relatively consistent voice that has room to evolve and change over time. Make reading a huge part of your practice and seek out authentic bloggers and writers. You will know it when you read it! Authenticity is a cultivated part of your writing practice. By focusing on your work and not comparing yourself to the work of others, you can easily nurture your voice into one that is distinct and interesting.

If you have a blog idea then please don’t be shy! We want to hear about it. You can contact us on our pitch page here. If you don’t know how to pitch then don’t worry, we have you covered with this blog post that gives you some great tips. And if you have any questions feel free to swing by our Facebook page, Twitter page, or leave us a question or comment below.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy, Disney’s Babble, and Momtastic. Sarah runs a popular Facebook page, @Housewifeplus where readers laugh and share stories from the parenting trenches. She is a co-author in several books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine and National Public Radio.