Saturday, May 20, 2017

You Are What You Write

Don’t let the keyboard get in your way.

With summer approaching and tax season behind us, this is the time of year when many of you start to catch your breath and think about FINALLY sitting down to pen your memoirs or write a thought leadership book (or eBook).

Great goal, but like New Year’s resolutions, more easily said than done.
Nevertheless, we’re all for it since studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory. Just don’t let the writing process get in the way of your writing.

Earlier this week, The New York Times republished  Tara Parker-Pope’s 2015 column, Writing Your Way to Happiness.  “The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right,” wrote Pope. She added that some researchers believe writing and editing your own stories can change your perceptions about yourself and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

Our Take: The writing, editing and introspection process is highly valuable. But most people—even experienced journalists and authors—need a coach, confidant or editor to push them along, help them separate the wheat from the chaff and get their inner voice out.
Think of your editor or writing coach as a trusted advisor who can provide you with a “second opinion” about your inner thoughts.

Also, don’t let the keyboard get in the way of clarifying your own thoughts and sharing them with your audience. Just tell a story by using any “thought-capturing” means you prefer.

Some of you are more comfortable with a legal pad and a pencil than a computer, and prefer to “write” on a favorite deck chair than at your desk. Others are more comfortable dictating into a voice recorder while stuck in traffic. Some of you are great presenters, but freeze up at the site of a blank computer screen. If so, try recording yourself on video, or having a colleague or close family member record you.
We’ve used all of the above techniques and more to help our clients clarify and codify their thoughts into the written word.

The key is to tell your story in your natural voice so your passion and energy for your subject—even if the subject is yourself—comes through loud and clear.

Most of you are established professionals who have a personal story—and business philosophy—that’s a lot more interesting than you give yourself credit for. But if you don’t sound like you believe your own story when you tell it, then how do you expect your readers and followers to buy it?
I’d love to tell you we have “6 Easy Steps” or a proprietary magic formula for making your writing better. We don’t. The writing process isn’t easy and don’t believe anyone who tells you it is. More often than not it’s a battle between you and your subconscious. To win that battle you have to be brutally honest with yourself and must have some trusted lieutenants on your side.

As French philosopher Voltaire famously said, “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” In other words, be yourself and the words will eventually come. Just be prepared to revise, revise and revise.


TAGS: Voltaire, Memoirs, Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good, health benefits of writing, Tara Parker-Pope, thought leadership

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