What three adjectives would you use to describe you? The question was part of a bigger article by Jeff Goins, designed to help you find your ‘writing voice’. (Jeff has an outrageously helpful blog on how to write blogs. It’s so instructive it actually feels like cheating. Every blogger should check it out.)
I asked my husband, Jon, “What three adjectives would you use to describe me?”
He looked at me suspiciously.
“It sounds like a trick question… You’re very lovely and wonderful and intelligent?”
“No, I mean, something that could describe both me and my style of writing.” (Blank stare).
I started to wonder whether or not my ‘writing voice’ was adequately reflective of my personality. Did it sound like me? Was it chatty enough? (Quite chatty enough, was Jon’s verdict).
I’m writing a lot about illness and suffering because that’s my life at the moment and that’s what I’m thinking about a lot – but would people want to read it? Is it too moany and depressing? Did my writing fully convey all the nuances of my personality? Would people realise that I was really a very funny and entertaining person in real life? (which inevitably led to: am I really a very funny and entertaining person in real life?)
“What do you want your writing voice to be?” Jon asked.
That was a more helpful question. I wrote down some ‘notes to self’ before starting a blog, to try and guide me as I wrote. I told him there are some questions I try and ask myself before I hit ‘publish’, which include:
- Is it truthful? I want what I write to be truthful – not just telling the truth but exposing truth. I want it to not just be true in its content but be emotionally true. I want to transmit the essence of the emotion I’m feeling, embedded within the writing, so that others feel it too. There is a great quote from Billy Coffey’s blog that describes this task of revealing something raw and real when you write,
Don’t tell me about love, speak of your passion. Don’t tell me you’re hurt, let me see your heart breaking. I don’t want to see your talent on the page, I want to see your blood. Dare to be naked before your readers.
- Is it beautiful? I want to write freely and honestly, but I also love language. I want to craft. I want to create something that is satisfying to write and a pleasure to read.
- Is it redemptive? I want to write about the hard stuff, the dirt, the grit; but I don’t want to remain in the dirt. I want to look up and see a faint pink cloud of sunrise. I want to find some gold. I want to somehow point to a Redeemer, who will make all things new.
I told Jon this. He looked at me and smiled.
“That’s your three adjectives: truthful, beautiful, redemptive.”
I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.
Over to you:
- What three adjectives would you use to describe you?
- What are you trying to do when you write?
- Do you feel your writing reflects your personality or are you a ‘different person’ on paper to how you are in real life?