Question: What’s one thing I can do to improve my writing right now?
Answer: Be honest.
Writing—good writing, anyway—is not about sugar-coating life and popularity ratings. It’s more about stripping away the façade we all put up, the mask we all wear, and tackling life as we live it.
Let’s face it, there’s enough dishonesty in the world already. Half-truths, white lies, withheld information, flattery, scandals, hypocrisy, betrayal. Everyday we’re smacked with it, confronted with the fact that people are not who they say they are, circumstances are rarely what they appear to be.
Writing gives us a chance to reverse that trend and show the world (or at least your friends and family) who we really are.
Here are two areas to start with:
First, be honest with yourself. Careful now, this one’s not as easy as it may seem. It’s easy and often too convenient to lie to ourselves, to convince ourselves that we are someone else, that everything is okay, to ignore the yearnings of our heart and crying of our soul. But if we can’t be honest with ourselves we’ll never be honest period. And our writing will suffer tremendously and come off as superficial and concocted.
Want to add authenticity to your writing? Search your soul, dig into those hidden recesses of your heart and mind and find the real you, the you that wrestles with your past, is disappointed in your failures, struggles with the brutality of life.
Second, be honest with your readers. Don’t give them what they want to hear, don’t cater to norms or expectations. Now is the time to pour onto the page those emotions you drudged up when you were being honest with yourself. Chances are, you’ll find you’re not alone, that there are others out there dealing with the same issues, hurting from the same wounds, celebrating the same victories.
As always, writing is a reflection of the bigger picture and honesty works not just on the page but in the person. We could all benefit from a little more transparency, a little more vulnerability, a little more honesty.