Writers who share their authentic stories connect with their readers in a powerful way. Writing authentically is the best writing tip I know. I’m willing to excuse grammatical errors, and poor writing technique, if the writer is keeping things real. But this post comes with a warning: Sharing your authentic story may be the most challenging writing that you do. In this post, you’ll find practical writing tips that make telling your story easier.
Writing Tips for Authentic Storytelling
Authenticity Writing Tips: Dive into Your Authentic Story
Authenticity isn’t easy, and my journey toward becoming a more honest writer began with an odd dream. It involved a paintball-gun fight, and a pesky shower door that wouldn’t stay closed–I told you it was weird. The gist of the dream is that I found myself in the middle of a paintball fight. A paint-grenade exploded, and I was covered from head to toe, in a brightly colored mess.
Then, the dream got stranger. I discovered a shower-room in an old barn–You would think this oddness would have clued me in that I was dreaming. I undressed, bolt the stall-door shut, and turned the water on. As I frantically scrubbed at the paint, I heard voices. A crowd of people had entered the room. Then the old bold on the shower door came undone. Slowly, the stall door swung open. I felt a twinge of embarrassment. I was naked and didn’t like the thought of being exposed. Then, with an enormous Swoosh, a gust of wind blew away the shower stall entirely.
At first, people starred. Then they continue about their business. I conclude that if they didn’t mind the naked, messy me, then I didn’t mind either.
To this day, I don’t like locker-room style, public showers. I did, however, concluded that this odd dream is a fitting metaphor for my life. Ten years ago, my neat life turned messy. It was as if a paint grenade exploded in my arms. For a time, I tried to hide my story from others. Jenny noticed this, and gently nudged me to share more. In her wisdom, she knew that my authentic story would be a blessing to others.
At first, sharing was difficult. Similar to my dream, I felt exposed. The more I told my story, the more the opportunity to share my story spread–The shower stall was blown away. And, similar to my dream, people didn’t mind. They listened to my authentic story, then went about their lives as usual. Although sharing my story felt overwhelming to me, it didn’t overwhelm others. [Tweet “The more we share our authentic story, the less painful our past feels.”]
Not only has sharing my story been beneficial to me. Readers have shared that hearing my journey has been a blessing to them. This is why diving into your authentic story, is at the tops my list of writing tips. Sharing our authentic story is one of the most helpful ways that we can serve our readers.
Writing Tips For Telling Your Authentic Story: Be Respectful.
Most authentic stories have an antagonist–or a villain–somewhere in the plot. Balancing the messy details of our story, with respect for others, isn’t easy. I once read a quote that said, “If the people in our stories wanted to be portrayed better, then they should have behaved better.” I like this quote too much, and I don’t suggest that you take this advice seriously. While uninhibited sharing may be the most enjoyable for us, a balanced approach is better for everyone.
In sharing the painful parts of our past, writing in a disrespectful tone is far too easy. Don’t give in to this temptation. [Tweet “Anyone can be rude, but writing with respect requires skill.”] Here are some writing tips for sharing the negative actions of others, with a healthy balance of grace and truth:
- Respect the privacy of others. Jenny and I often share the messy details of our blended family life. We do this intentionally. Most blended family homes have messes of their own, and our readers can relate to our journey. Jenny and I want to normalize common blended family challenges while doing our best to respect the privacy of all. We do this by leaving out names and identifying information, to the best of our ability. Although Google has made it easy to search for additional details, Jenny and I do the best we can to keep privacy in tack.
- Direct anger at inappropriate actions by externalizing the problem. When someone wounds us deeply, it feels like that person is the problem. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe “that person,”–the one who caused the pain and heartache–is someone God cares for deeply. Instead of villainizing this person, choose to attack the problem instead. More than likely the true problem is the:
- Jealousy, etc.
[Tweet “Remember, people are not the problem, their negative actions and bad habits are.”]
- Test-drive Your Authentic Story. The best way to know if you are attacking or oversharing is to get feedback from those closet to you. Jenny helps me test-drive my books before they are published. She lets me know if I’m sharing too much, being overly critical, or–more than likely–am guilty of under-sharing parts of my story that will benefit others. Develop a strong team of safe friends who will let you know if you are sharing too much, or too little.
Authenticity Writing Tips: Share Wins and Losses
I’ve heard authenticity described as being real. I’m willing to bet that the real you has both wins and losses. Sharing our wins is encouraging. It lets other’s know that we are an expert in our field. [Tweet “Our wins help others to know that our wisdom and advice is sound. “]
On the other hand, sharing losses is also important because it helps others to relate. Everybody knows what it feels like to struggle. Imperfect people connect best to other imperfect people. [Tweet “Sharing our mistakes and failures make us relatable.”] Sharing struggles also normalizes life’s messes and encourages our readers to press forward in the midst of life’s storms.
You and I are neither a perfect success nor an abject failure. Our life is a balance of both. Thus, if we are going to share our authentic story, we will need to write about times we have succeeded and failed. For most writers, one of these comes easier than the other. Some shy away from sharing successes because it feels too much like bragging. Others are uncomfortable talking about failures. Authentic writers are self-aware. They push past pride and shame and share their true selves.
As you can see, authenticity matters. It tops my list of valuable writing tips. Have you shared your authentic story yet, and if so, what was this process like for you? Do you have additional writing tips for authentic storytelling that would you add to this list? I look forward to continuing the conversation in the comments below!
For more creative writing ideas, be sure to visit our writing resources page. I pull back the curtain and show you all of my favorite writing resources. You can also check out my book Ten Great Ideas for Authors, where you will discover creative writing prompts and strategies to jump-start your author journey. You’ll also want to check out this post on How to Write Consistently. It’s a deep dive into some of the best writing success tips I know. I truly believe you are only one great idea away from writing success!
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Family, Friendship, and Faith Link-Up
This link-up is an excellent place to meet new friends, network, and share your posts. Please feel free to include any family, friendship, and faith-related posts. If you have time, please visit some of the other submissions, leave a comment, and make some new connections–after all, this is what teaming-up is all about!
Finally, I’d love it if you would grab a button for your site, or link back to the Family Friendship and Faith Fridays, link-up, in order to make it easy for others to join in!
[Tweet “I’m Teaming-up at the #Family #Friendship and #Faith link-up. Join the Party! “]