“There is no escape from you. The only way out is in.” Spike Milligan
I stumbled across an old CD with a live recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Mack the Knife” (it’s the one where she forgot a couple of her lines, but effortlessly styled it out with a splash of flair and pizzazz).
Her voice was so unique, no-one, in my opinion, has been able to match it. Not only because of its purity of sound but for her notable hip, scat style.
(Try saying “Scoobydoobydatdiddedlydat” as fast as you can. That’s scat!)
The thing is, Ella drew her inspiration not from other singers but from instruments, displaying an incredible ability to mimic them.
When you hear that voice, you know it’s Ella and no-one can do scat quite like her.
Okay, so reflecting your own unique style in song is one thing – but your writing, that’s quite another thing altogether, isn’t it?
Yes and no.
The Authenticity Paradox
We all have a sense of what being authentic means – to be true to yourself in a way that represents your true identity. No false pretenses.
So while you should of course follow the usual rules of grammar (well, some of them), you absolutely can reflect your unique personality.
The best way to do that, is craft your writing so it sounds just like you.
This is not to be confused with popular online advice to “write the way that you speak.”
In general, when we speak we ramble, we use word whiskers (‘uh’, ‘um’, ‘like’, ‘y’know-what-I-mean’) and we stray off the point.
Conversely, your writing should be as concise as possible. But that doesn’t mean it has to be devoid of colour, personality and flair.
So just how do you reflect all of this your writing?
Writing with authenticity
- Get comfortable with feeling more authentic. This sounds obvious, but it’s an important starting point. Ella didn’t sing like any other jazz singer. She wanted to sound like a saxophone, or trumpet, or whatever other instrument took her fancy. That’s what she felt comfortable doing.Similarly, writing with authenticity means first, feeling completely comfortable with who you are, what you are, what you want to be. Being in tune with your core values and beliefs. Not trying to be something you’re not, or copying someone else’s style.
- Be clear on your ‘why’ and purpose. What is it that drives you, or keeps you going when the odds seem stacked against you? What is your vision and how do you want to convey it to your readers? It’s much easier to reflect authenticity when you have a subject you really care about, to an audience you really want to connect with.
- Get comfortable with telling your story. This is closely related to your why, but this time, it’s about telling others the challenges you’ve had to overcome, or how you’ve overcome them. When you’re empowered by your thoughts, feelings and experiences, you convey them openly. In turn, you connect with others who have similar challenges.
- Write to express, not impress. Imagine you’re relaying an exciting story to a close friend. You wouldn’t use long-winded, overly verbose prose, such as, “Might I, perchance, happen upon your good nature to tell you my story?”You’d be animated, conversational, easy to understand. So, just write to convey your thoughts and feelings in a way that is clear and concise. A good exercise is to check what you’ve written, read it aloud and then ask yourself whether you can actually hear yourself saying it. If it sounds stilted and unnatural, edit to make it clearer, then rework.
Writing your business book is a fine balance between structuring it well and engaging your readers, but the result is the power to change their lives – potentially forever. That’s well worth the effort, isn’t it?