Welcome to the Author’s Mindset series

I’m a big fan of motivational reading. Over the years I have used many books, talks, podcasts, and more, to get me over humps and out of slumps. Now I’d like to share all that has resonated with me, in the hope that, wherever you are on your writing journey, the things I’ve learned might inspire you too.

 Each of my Author’s Mindset series has four topics. I suggest you pick one topic and spend some time (at least a week, or as long as you need) mulling over the suggestions, and implementing any new habits you need to propel your writing forward. 

3. Authenticity

Do you get excited by ideas, but embarrassed at the thought of people reading them? How well do you know your authentic voice?

On the page, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s easy to spot when someone hasn’t quite found their way in to a story (the ‘voice’), or is trying too hard to impress or generate excitement. However, finding the voice of your story is one of the most important things you’ll ever do, and essential for successfully completing your novel (or non-fiction work). And while attending writing workshops, reading books, and making time for lots of practice will help you cultivate different storytelling skills, bringing authenticity to the page is crucial in owning your unique voice and story.

Here are some of the ways I try to bring authenticity to my stories:

  • I genuinely care about the characters and the situations I write about. The darkness in my writing isn’t just there to thrill: it’s because I want to investigate that darkness and trauma of that character’s soul. I want to understand it.
  • I only write about things I’m interested in. This doesn’t mean I’ve experienced everything I write about: but I have a fascination for the subject for one reason or another. I love to write about extreme sports, and I’m not a long-distance runner or a rock climber! However, I’m naturally drawn to people who live on the edge or like extreme challenges.
  • I don’t write to impress. (Well, of course sometimes I slip up on this, but it’s easy to spot and gets edited out!) This is hard because I want the world to love my stories, and therefore verbosity can creep in! I often pull back description to make it simpler but more effective. I write to create a connection between me, the story and the reader. I want us to share the feeling of being inside this fictional world together.
  • I love language. I love trying to find the perfect way to express a feeling or a situation that will move a reader or draw them further into my story.

ACTION STEPS/THINGS TO CONSIDER

  1. Remember, the first draft is just for you, and let that free you up to experiment. At a certain point, I value feedback and editorial input, but in the beginning there’s nothing more satisfying than getting to craft a world, to breathe life into characters, and I love that I get to start this whole process on my own.
  2. Consider the market – but not too much! If you love writing in a popular genre, don’t be put off by the term ‘over-saturated’, but be aware of it, so that when it’s time to sell your work you’ll be ready to tell a prospective agent or publisher what makes your story unique. Likewise, if the kind of writing you love is not riding a wave of popularity, don’t be discouraged. Seasons change, and a great story that’s exquisitely told will get publishers a lot more excited than a mediocre book that’s ‘on trend’.
  3. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a while to find that authentic voice. In my experience, and watching the careers of other authors, it’s something that grows and strengthens the more you play with it and work on it. It’s a work in progress, not something that appears on day one. I’ve written six books now, and with each one I feel I’m adding another layer to that voice.

CHALLENGE:

Find three authentic voices that have inspired you, and go back to their work, analyse it, and see if you can figure out what makes them unique.

A HELPFUL RESOURCE ON AUTHENTICITY:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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