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Writing takes a special kind of person, writing for a living even more so. Writing can be exhausting, it can tear you up from the inside. You are essentially laying bare the ragged edges of your soul for all to see, inspect, judge, and freely comment on. There will be a gaggle of imbecilic geese without a shred of an idea of what you do, telling you their nephew is a better writer. “He was featured in his middle school newspaper.” There is a whole world of people who will not understand why you chose one word over another, or that that particular word elicited an emotional response in them that they didn’t even know they were capable of. You are painting a brilliant picture, and changing “plethora” to “a lot” is akin to painting the sky green instead of a shade of blue.
Being a writer takes a level of honesty that most just cannot fathom. Not an honesty with your spouse, or your family, or even the rest of the world, but with yourself. You must have a total and complete honesty with yourself, no matter how hard it is to do, to be a great writer. You must truly know every crack, crevasse, and break in your heart and soul to be one of the best. Without this basic understanding of yourself your writing will start to ring hollow. If you are lying to yourself, than you cannot effectively lie to your readers.
Go ahead. Ask me. I see it. The question forming that you don’t want to ask because you’re afraid of looking ignorant. You have to ask. Admitting you don’t know or understand something is part of this self-honesty I’m talking about.
“Why would I want to lie to my readers?”
It’s just what we do. It’s our job. Some are just much better at it than the rest of us. I’m not talking about malicious heartbreaking lies. Maybe lie is too strong of a word. Maybe fiction fits better. Sometimes manipulate works. Yeah, manipulate, that’s probably the best word actually. Every word you put on paper is to manipulate the reader in some way shape or form. You want them to picture a particular environment, or smell a certain scent. You want them to be afraid, or in love. You are slowly adjusting their very emotions, as you see fit, for the sake of the story.
I know. “Where did this conversation go?” “What do these lies have to do with the truth and honesty we were just talking about?” And I’m also sure “What does this have to do with writing copy?” is in there somewhere too. Trust me, we’re getting there. I wouldn’t lie to you.
The point is you need to know yourself to harness your truest desires, fears, pains, hates, or loves, and put them on paper. These are the building blocks of great stories, and when it boils down to it, everything is a story. Non-fiction is still telling a story. Poems are telling a story. Copywriting is storytelling, well if you’re good at it, it is.
I have put together a small collection of writings from other bloggers. These writings are stated to be the most honest thing they have ever published about themselves. These writing run the gamut from work troubles to mental illness, and they all took making an admission to their selves and or loved ones. I hope you read them all. They all took a special kind of bravery to write, publish, and then let me publicize. I hope one day to be so brave. I asked the writers how publishing these pieces made them feel. Some of them gave me direct quotes.
The Business Primer writes about some of the personal and workspace issues she had writing. The things that slowed her and overcoming those issues.
The Mission “It felt cathartic at the time. Looking back at it, it captures a particular moment (that moment where you think you want to be an author). For some, this is a moment that endures. For me, it comes and goes. I have zero ambition to write a great fiction novel, for example.
But in this moment, I felt I had been running from writing. Today, I spend too much freakin’ time writing!
When I get to a place where I can write and not worry about income, we’ll see if I switch to writing something other than copy. I don’t love it enough to be that starving writer, though. I’ll take copywriting + money over other types of writing + struggle 99 days out of 100.”
Dreams, Visions, and Revelations “A cathartic piece of writing about being alone and how it felt. I think one or two people were a little taken back by it. It’s not often it comes to me that intensely, but when it does it feels better once I’ve let it out.”
Darklittlecritter.com “I blog about mental health with some bent humour. To me, it’s just blogging. But people tell me the bald honesty + humour is a powerful mix. I can tell when I’ve gone too naked, because people don’t respond, whereas most of my posts start great conversations.
I’ve learned a ton in the last couple of years about the difference between dumping my woes and sparking honest conversations.”
Side note – The Dark Little Critter struck a chord with me personally and was the topic of much debate at home.
Gaurav Shangari “Not sure if this counts but I recently confessed in a long post on my Facebook profile about my smoking habit and what it took to quit. Most family and friends were not even aware that I smoked for 10 years before I stopped cold turkey so it was nerve wracking for me to share this so publicly.”
This might not seem like much, but it is pretty huge. He quit because he was honest with himself about the habit. Then he was also honest with everyone else.
Gardening Love “I wrote about getting help for my depression and how hard it is for people to reach out for help with their mental health. I felt relieved to share my story but more than that I hope that it will help others to speak out. The only way for the stigma to end is for the conversation to start between people more.”
Voyage Bound Girls shared this story in direct response to the Gardening Love post that comes before it. They had a conversation about discussing mental illness so openly, and how they hoped sharing their stories would help others shake the stigma and find it easier to seek help.