You sit at your desk agonizing over the blank page in front of you. Several crumpled sheets of paper and a half-eaten sandwich lay beside you. “Does it have to be this difficult?” you think to yourself.
For some reason, it is so challenging to put yourself onto paper. You want to stand out like some of the greats, but you just haven’t found your “it” factor yet.
I just want you to know that you’re not alone. You’re not the first (or last) writer to struggle with authenticity and with finding yourself.
In fact, there are five reasons why many writers struggle with authenticity.
1. You don’t believe in what you’re writing about.
Sometimes when we’re desperate for others to pay attention to our words, we turn to writing about random topics--even if we have no interest in it.
You might have even thought, “Maybe, just maybe this topic will increase my page views and help me reach my readership goals!”
While I wholeheartedly understand your frustrations, I recommend writing and publishing quality work that is authentic to you. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter how many notches (articles or books) you have under your belt if the work does not represent you. I assume you became a writer to share your story, to help someone heal even. Well, trust me. You’ll be able to do that a lot better if you actually write about topics you believe in.
2. You are trying to sound like another writer.
You know what topics matter to you, but you really admire this particular writer, and you find yourself wanting to be just like her (or him). I mean, she just has this incredible way with words. Her sentence structure is mesmerizing and her personality shines through every single word.
You want that. You crave it, even.
Can I tell you something, though? Your writer crush had to work just like you to find her voice and style. It’s all part of the journey, friend. If only you and I knew how many paragraphs were scrapped before that awesome writer birthed greatness! So, while you’re crushing on that phenomenal writer, don’t forget to work diligently to find your own flare. Like Rhianna (and your writer crush), you, too, can shine bright like a diamond. Just give yourself time to develop.
3. You have low self-esteem or lack enough confidence.
You see all of these incredible writers not only sharing and pouring themselves into their work, but actually having quite a bit of positive feedback, too. What is their secret? How do they do it? More importantly, why aren’t you writing and sharing the true you?
Dare I say, it may be because of low self-esteem and lack of confidence?
I know all too well how it feels to wonder if your words really matter. It's easy to get caught up in "just being the gal from Charleston, SC who decided to pursue a childhood passion of writing". Let me encourage you, friend.
Your words are important. Your story matters.
You may never know how many lives are touched by your words, but that doesn’t give you the right to lay down your pen (or keyboard) and give up on writing and sharing your awesomeness. Don’t wait to be validated by others before choosing to be authentic in your writing.
4. You are afraid of being “too open” or vulnerable.
Let me be the first to say that being authentic doesn’t mean you have to share every single detail of your life story. You truly can be an authentic writer without letting your audience know everything about you. You are the judge of knowing how much you should (or shouldn’t) share.
Set clear boundaries for yourself. What do you feel comfortable writing about? What are some taboo topics for you? Know these ahead of time, and don’t feel ashamed for reserving certain parts of yourself.
I heard a pastor say once, “Everyone can’t be on your front row.” Those words really hit home for me when I heard them. As a writer, remember, you can be authentic without having your audience in your inner circle.
5. You are afraid of what “they” might say.
I get it. You don’t want people to look at you differently because of your choice to share how you overcame an abusive relationship no one knew about. Maybe you don’t want people to judge you for how much you really struggle with being married, a mother, and an entrepreneur. You might be afraid people will treat you differently or call you XYZ for feeling the way you’ve felt.
Your message is not for everyone.
There. I said it.
Don’t be ashamed of your experiences. I can promise you that you are not the only mother who has prayed for the ability to become invisible or even teleport to a quieter setting.
Instead of being afraid of what “they” might say, I challenge you to embrace the things and experiences that make you who you are, and let it shine in your writing. If you’re not quite ready, there are ways you can still be authentic in your writing while getting your story's message across.
I have felt this way before, too, and a phenomenal author and writing coach suggested turning to fiction writing. You can always write your story in a manner to protect whatever you feel doesn't need to be shared fully and still be authentic in your message.
Being authentic is such an important part of being a writer. Although it can be difficult at times, it is certainly doable.