You’ve read it a thousand times: “write with your own authentic voice”. According to some it is the key to engaging readers and creating books that sell. But what exactly is “Your authentic voice”? It’s a tricky one to pin down as a writer. We begin to second guess every sentence, question every choice of word, analyse every exclamation mark! The trouble is that telling yourself to write authentically can sometimes have the very real effect of creating the exact opposite.
You know the drill. You sit down to write. The words are flying down onto the keyboard. You are on a roll, baby! You have banged out two thousand words and your Writer’s high is … euphoric. But then you read back through what you have written. This time however you read back with your reader’s hat on, or even worse, your editing hat on… The questions are racing through your mind. Have I expressed that idea correctly? Is my grammar correct? And then, the killer question: am I writing in my authentic voice? Ouch. She’s a chilly comedown, that one.
Sometimes, second guessing yourself can be a good thing. It is important to check that your writing communicates your idea properly. Checking spelling and grammar are what a professional writer does. But how do you test for an authentic voice in your writing? Tricky one this. One thing I have noticed is that when I write as myself, from my heart and imagine myself speaking the words that I have written, then I have written authentically. When I go into academic, dictionary gobbling, essay writing mode, my authentic voice is way off in the distance, dancing with the fairies and poking her tongue out at me! You know when your tone is authentic because it resonates with your heart. Reading it through, just feels right. Sorry to be flighty and woo-woo. Sorry to be so unscientific about the whole thing. But authenticity is unscientific. It comes from the heart. It is allowing your voice to find itself through your writing. Get out of your own way for a minute. Stop second guessing yourself. Write as if you were communicating with your very best friend.
A great way to do this is to be a little business like in your approach to your writing project. Create an Ideal Reader Avatar. Give them a name, a full identity – spend as much time getting to know your ideal reader as you would getting to know your main character. Know where they hang out online, what they read, what they love, what they fear. Drill down into their emotional truth and hold that knowledge in your heart.
When you know your reader so well, communicating them is like speaking to a friend. You know the details that they are looking for, you read the book through their eyes, you answer the questions that they are asking for themselves. Knowing your ideal reader and communicating with them through your writing is the key to authenticity. It is how you write from your heart using the language and images that your reader wants to read.
I created yet another printable to help me with this (I know, I know – I am printable obsessed!) so here you go – another gift! Just clicky HERE to get the pdf.
And yes, it is unscientific. It is esoteric. But so is the creative act of writing. And remember, science is just another story that we tell ourselves. Consider my words to be just another theory of Authenticity. That’s all…
So how do you get to understand your ideal reader? Do you have another way of finding your authentic voice? Let’s share our ideas because, y’know, it’s nice to share! Leave a comment – I am learning so much from you guys!
And have yourself an authentically beautiful, and productive, day.