How to Write Authentically

Aria J. Wolfe 🐾
Scribe
Published in
3 min readJan 23, 2019

--

Like everyone (I’m sure), I’m my most authentic self when I’m alone. I pick my nose, scratch my butt and do those insanely huge yawns that make you burp at the end. (C’mon, you know what I’m talking about).

I’m sitting alone, eating breakfast in the most amazing restaurant in Banff, Alberta, staring out at the craggy, snow-capped mountains, when I see a man in white (most likely a cook) step out onto the balcony to have a smoke. I can tell by the relaxed way he’s leaning against the balcony and staring up at the mountains (or sky?…who knows), that he is blissfully unaware he’s being watched. In that moment, he’s his most authentic self. And I think, why can’t we be like that all the time? Why do we censor ourselves when others are around?

Eating breakfast at Primrose Restaurant, Rimrock Hotel, Banff, Alberta (see me in the reflection?)

Especially writers. When we are told to write to our target audience, and encouraged to envision a particular reader and write to them, our honesty is lost. We may be physically writing alone, but we are mentally in a crowded room full of the voices of our characters, our muse, and the nameless, faceless presence of our target audience. No wonder we get so lost.

Humans in general get in their heads. We think about things. A lot. We overanalyze the last conversation we had with our best friend where he raised an eyebrow while we were talking, but never said why. (“Does he think I farted?” “Did something I say offend him?”)

We replay the things we did, places we’ve been and with who; often reimagining the events, and even embellishing them. We are just plainly in our heads too much.

Writer’s are the worst kind of introspective people, I think. We overthink how best to write the most poignant paragraph. Or the most authentic dialogue. Or the most intriguing scene in our novel. But worrying what someone else thinks of my writing, or how the scene flows, or if the dialogue ‘seems real,’ isn’t writing authentically. If I focus too much on ‘getting it right’ my voice — my truth — will get lost.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t write our best sentences and put lots of thought into our scenes and dialogue. I am saying, I believe we would write more freely if we wrote the way children live.

I have four grandchildren. They say the most amazing things. Sometimes funny, sometimes so full of insight it makes my breath catch. Young children don’t care what people think. They just say what’s on their minds. (“Nana, why is your forehead so wrinkly? Mine’s not wrinkly.” or “Nana, tell my sister to stop breathing on me. Her breath stinks.”)

What if we, as writers, wrote like no one will ever read our stuff? Would we be more honest? Authentic? Raw? I believe we would. At least, that’s how I write. Like no one will ever read a word, except my older self one day — maybe. I write in order to capture the truth of the present moment. I write with all the angst, loneliness, or joy that I’m feeling the minute I’m writing. Whether it be a scene in my novel, a paragraph in my blog, or a journal entry. I write so that if my future self reads it, she will remember where she was and what she was going through at the time (no matter how difficult). And having come through the other side, she will be able to smile and say to herself, “you did okay, baby. You were alright.” And it will be the truth.

So, go ahead. Write as no one will ever read your stuff. It just might be so authentic it will scare you. But that’s good. It’s necessary. Because the world needs more authenticity.

And there is, after all, only one you.

--

--

Aria J. Wolfe 🐾
Scribe

Freelance writer. Hybrid author of YA paranormal sci-fantasies & adult thriller/horror short stories. Girl that lifts. Words have power. Wield wisely.