Lately, I have been contemplating the issue of authenticity as a writer. Are we what we write? Do we practice what we preach as bloggers and authors?
Letting the “real” you shine through in your writing has become a staple of the blogging culture. Authenticity has become so important that potential readers have come to expect nothing less than full disclosure from the bloggers they follow.
The case for authenticity is usually presented from the side of the reader, and how they benefit from your total exposure. There are several reasons why you, as the author, stand to gain just as much, if not more.
Nowadays expectations are so high that it’s no longer enough to be honest about the value you offer new and existing readers. In other words, it’s not enough to let them into your office or living room. They demand the keys to the bedroom, and will be hard pressed o stick around if you don’t let them in.
It’s not enough to state your qualifications and the mission to which you apply them. They want your dirty laundry as well.
Why are readers so demanding these days?
Well, in a nutshell, because we’ve trained them to be. For years bloggers have been laying it all on the line to establish a personal connection with their audience.
Readers benefit from full exposure because they get to connect with you on a more profound level. They learn to trust you and the value you provide. I want to look at the flip-side of that equation and show what you, the author, can learn from baring your soul on the page. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy by letting it all hang out.
How Being Authentic Helps You No Matter What You Do
1. Find your true authentic voice. This is something many A-List bloggers talk about. A great way to get down to the brass tacks of what you have to say is to not hold anything back from your readers … or yourself.
2. Feel the freedom. With stark authenticity comes great freedom of expression. It’s very liberating to not have things hanging over your shoulder.
3. Reconcile with your weaknesses. Encourage your strengths. Putting everything on the table and taking a good look at it is a great way to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s great way to decipher what you’re good at, and what you may need to work on.
4. Nip potential naysayers in the bud. It’s a known fact that working on something unique that develops a loyal following inevitably attracts naysayers and critics hell bent on bringing you down and hurting your brand. When you’ve put everything on the line, it makes it that much harder to find things to give you a hard time. If there is one thing they can’t accuse you of, it’s being dishonest.
5. Give others a reason to trust you. Baring your soul makes people believe in you. Showing them that you’re just like them makes them want to stick around and get to know you better.
6. Give yourself a reason to trust yourself. A lot of bloggers like to play themselves up. They want to look like they have tons going on and are having huge success. Stretching the truth about how well you’re doing hurts no one but yourself. Stick to what you know. Write about what you can prove, and don’t be afraid to prove it.
7. Let go of fear. Baring your soul is one of the most daring, hence most terrifying things you can do. Doing it will bring you face to face with some of your deepest fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection. Talking through those fears will help dissipate them.
8. Learn from your readers. When you share mistakes with your readers, they will be eager to help whether its through encouragement or through advice of their own. They’ll also feel comfortable sharing some of their own woes. Blogging is a two way street and the wisdom goes both ways.
9. Learn from yourself. Create optimal conditions for mutual growth, discovery, and self-realization by being honest about who you are, what you’ve done, and what you hope to become.
10. Be true to yourself. There are times in life when we take liberties with our transgressions. Keeping the light on with your writing will make it harder for you to keep yourself in the dark about what’s really going on around you, and what your role is in it all. Make being ‘frank’ your default setting.
11. Stand firm on the side of your values and beliefs. Being authentic about who you are, what you go through and how you are progressing keeps you motivated to stay true to your values. Blogging about them openly helps you understand them more precisely. If you’re confused about what they are, writing openly about it may help you figure it out.
12. Take responsibility for “all” of your actions, both good and bad. Blogging about your faults, mistakes, grief, suffering, and struggle helps you take responsibility for the actions you take, for better or worse. When the eyes of thousands are following your story, there’s no excuse to hide behind.
13. Get a better picture of your purpose, talents, and virtues. When you do something right, you’re readers will laud you. When you do something wrong, you’re readers will be quick to call you out. They’re brutal honesty will help you hone in on what you’re good at, and what you need to work on.
Authenticity is great for growing an audience by gaining people’s trust, but the reason it’s so important goes beyond what it can do for your blog or your writing. Being authentic won’t just make you a better writer, it will make you a better person, and that’s what this is all about. Isn’t it?
There are many reasons why we should stay true to who we are. But importantly, I can’t think of any reason not to.
Some may not like what they see when you show them everything. They may walk away and never come back. That’s ok. Let them. From their shadows many more will walk into the light. Those are the people you want around anyways.
What have you learned from opening up to your audience and showing them all your dirty little secrets? How has it helped you’re writing?