There are many kinds of writers out there. But very few people know what constitutes an authentic writer. Obviously, authenticity has more to do with how a writer writes than what she writes about. In other words, authentic writers can write about anything at all.
Recently, I asked my critique group what characteristics they believed constituted an authentic writer. Here is the list that they came from. An authentic writer is:
3. Content in his/her own skin
4. Can roll with the punches of ups and downs that are so much a part of the writer’s life
7. Isn’t self-critical
8. Loves writing
9. Doesn’t compare him/herself to others
10. Knows that she is okay even if she gets rejected by an editor.
Now that’s quite a list, isn’t it?
I believe that an authentic writer is all of these things above. But what is more, an authentic writer is fearless. When an authentic writer starts a new project, she is filled with joy and passion. She is not filled with dread and uncertainty. An authentic writer is able to silence that negative inner critique and to soar well above it.
It’s not that authentic writers never have negative thoughts while they write. However, what the authentic writer is able to dismiss these thoughts. Most of our negative thoughts are mood related. So, if we are in a good mood, our inner thoughts are positive. However, if we’re in a bad mood, our inner thoughts are negative. But we should not allow moods to affect our overall writing productivity. Authentic writers can step back from these negative moods and just relax and enjoy the writing that is before them. This can help writers feel happier, more content, and productive.
Here are a few more tips for being an authentic writer.
1. Be yourself
At first, it can be difficult to be who you truly are when you write. But it is the only way to become an authentic writer. Who you truly are is about what you like and dislike. But it is also about trying not to be someone else when you write. You could use other writers as muses, but you can’t emulate other writers when you write and be successful and authentic. So, don’t even try. It will do nothing but frustrate you and negatively impact of your writing.
2. Don’t be scared when you write
Many of you fret and stew as you write. You may think you don’t measure up to other successful writers. But the truth is that you don’t have to measure up to anyone when you write. So, why are you so worried about everyone else? All you should worry about is yourself and what you are writing about at the moment. If you focus on what you’re doing instead of critiquing yourself as you write, you will be a lot more authentic and productive when you sit down to write.
Many of you worry about producing the perfect manuscript right away. That is a sure recipe for uncertainty and even psychological paralysis. The process of revision should take care of the necessity to produce quality manuscripts right away. There is no need to worry unnecessarily. Just revise your manuscript constantly and the rest will take care of itself.
3. Write from the heart
There is nothing more important to become an authentic writer than to write from the heart. When you write from the heart, you can take the time to be passionate about what you are writing about. And this can help you be yourself as you write as well. So, it’s a win-win for everyone.
But more importantly, when you write from the heart, you’ll discover how you feel about different aspects of your writing. You may even discover your likes and dislikes as a writer as well when you write from the heart.
4. Write about what you’re passionate about
Many of you write about topics that you’re not interested in and sometimes don’t even care about. There is nothing more detrimental to becoming an authentic writer. If you write about things you dislike, how can you enjoy writing? You can’t possibly enjoy writing and sitting down to write every day will become a dreadful chore.
You need to know what you’re passionate about. If you don’t know what you really enjoy to write about, do some experimenting. One way to determine what you’re passionate about is to reflect on what kind of books you love to read. Are they mostly fiction or nonfiction? Do you like suspense novels or mysteries? Or, do you enjoy reading nonfiction books with a psychological or educational focus? Whatever you like to read, you’ll probably like to write about too.
5. Make writing enjoyable for you
Many of you find writing a drag. You know that you have to write often to be successful. So, you get into your office and simply get your writing over with. But this is one sure way of developing an aversion towards writing.
Instead, what you should do is to create a space of sacredness and happiness in your office. You should play some inspiring background music and just relax. You should have sprigs of lavender and flowers in your office too. This can help you to relax more. You should just enjoy yourself and make the setting as pleasant as possible.
6. Take steps to relax when you write
How many of you come into your office to write tension filled? When I asked this question at my critique group, I was surprised to discover how many of them felt uneasy before they even sat down to write. Writing becomes a chore when you’re tense and uneasy. But what is more, the quality of your writing will suffer as well. This could be a true hindrance to productivity and creativity.
One way to relax is to try a centering exercise before you start writing. Close your eyes and take two or 3 diaphragmatic breathes. Then think of a peaceful scene that you visited. It could be walking on the warm sand along a beautiful, picturesque, and serene beach or basking in the sun. Breathe deeply. Think of how relaxed you felt and how content you are. Spend another few minutes basking in this comfortable place. Take a few more deep breaths and then return to the here and now.
7. Write in Flow
Flow is a state of consciousness where you experience a task so deeply that it truly becomes enjoyable and satisfying. For me this usually happens while I’m reading or writing. For you, it could happen during any number of tasks — golfing, cooking, hiking, etc.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the architect of Flow. After many decades of researching the characteristics of the “optimal experience” he wrote Flow: The Psychology of the Optimal Experience. A guide that shows you how to add more meaning in your life by increasing the time you spend in Flow.
There’s an indescribable contentment that comes over a writer when you are writing ‘in flow’. Not only do you lose track of time, but you lose a sense of where you are and how long you have spent writing.
When you’re in the flow of writing, you can enter a place where you are out of your head. This clears the space for your soul to come forth. Allow your pen to move freely across the paper without censoring your thoughts. This free-flowing stream of consciousness can offer tremendous insight into your writing patterns. The result is a great intimacy with self. This approach can alter how you feel towards your writing. And you will be able to write in an authentic manner.
By following these tips, you will become a more authentic and happy writer. And this is the best way to be content and happy as a writer.
Irene S. Roth, Author and Editor
For more writing tips, please visit my website at: http:/irenesroth.wordpress.com/