Sometimes when I read through my own unpublished writing I look back and think, “That doesn’t even sound like me.”
That’s because my voice as a new writer wasn’t entirely mine. It’s so clear to me that in the process of writing some of my older, unpublished pieces that I was holding back from stating my truth. I focused too heavily on the opinions of others that made me doubt myself and it showed in my work. I lost my voice.
I like to think of myself as confident when it comes to my blogging. I strive to encourage honesty and vulnerability. I highly emphasize the importance of authenticity in everyday life, especially when it comes to mental health. I learned the importance of staying truthful because there are people out there who will not only relate to my story, but need to hear it.
That is a responsibility every writer holds whether we’re writing a best seller or a post online. If we share our work and we don’t stand behind our message, then we lose our integrity. We can not expect readers to believe in our message if it doesn’t even hold true to ourselves.
This loss of authenticity in anyone’s writing can be attributed to a few factors, but my main focus will be discussing how the pressure to create perfect and ‘acceptable’ work actually took away my authenticity.
I like to compare this to voices in a crowded room, similar to a writer in a world full of opinions. When the voices around you become too loud, yours is dulled down. When you allow the opinions of others to dictate yours, your writing becomes weak.
You might be wondering, what does that have to do with keeping my authenticity? Surely I can rise above the voices if i’m loud enough; of course other opinions don’t have to influence mine.
However when I was first introduced to blogging and the idea of sharing my work publicly, my mindset shifted. Comparing my own experiences to others made me seriously doubt myself.
I’m going to pause for a moment and rewind to writing as a child. Writing as a child, we write purposely for our own enjoyment. We write our most authentic ideas in this time, creating bizarre characters and stories with no doubt in our minds. We are proud of our work and we feel such a great sense of ease. Because we aren’t writing to please others; we don’t feel the pressures of our work being edited and reviewed. We write as children as a tool to express ourselves, so of course we’re proud of our work. It doesn’t matter whether it’s perfect or not. Because it’s our own.
This changes as we grow up and learn that our work isn’t always as flawless as we thought. The value of our work is defined by the grades we earn. We begin writing essays and discover that what we want to talk about is not always acceptable. We take our first creative writing classes and we’re told that our work isn’t interesting enough. We grow up reading all of these prestigious authors and we realize that we have a long way to come before we’re ever as accomplished as them. We show our friends and families are work, and once we’re old enough, we discover that not everyone likes our work. Those are the voices. When we want to be accepted as a writer, they start to influence us every time we sit down to write.
Eventually the biggest critic is no longer those outside voices. It is ourselves.
In my case, I internalized these voices and it affected the way I approached things when I first started to share my work publicly. Rather than appreciating the fact that my experience was different than others, I thought that I had to put up a better image in order to seem appealing to my readers. So, I didn’t share the work I used to be so eager too. I tried writing in a completely different style, which didn’t work out for me.
When I first started The Journey on WordPress, I found so many blogs with talented writers. I convinced myself that I could never amount to them. I told myself, “I’m too young! I don’t have enough credentials. I can’t write in the same style that them. How can I compare?” Instead of considering what I do have to offer as a writer, I focused on all of the things I did not. As a new writer, it became so tempting to follow those voices. I started to doubt my own story. I grew worried that people would not relate to the stories I had to share, or find them acceptable, so I held back from publishing them.
It took some time for me to realize that I don’t want to be perfect on my blog, nor do I to be perfect to be a better writer. I don’t have to prove myself, or criticize myself down to the core.
Because to be authentic isn’t to be perfect. It’s to be real. After all, how can anyone write about growth and learning if we don’t share share the lessons we learned for ourselves? I’m not afraid to share my own experiences, imperfections and all, if it means helping someone else in any way.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to comment below if you have any additional thoughts, or have any posts to share.