Writing From Within Authenticity

“Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.” ~ W. H. Auden, “Reading”

One of the most insistent tugs we feel in life’s journey, especially at mid-life and beyond, is toward greater authenticity. At some point, perhaps to our own surprise, we find ourselves ripping off decades’ layers of defenses, masks, armor, and costumes, and we tremble with both excitement and terror at what we will discover at our core.

Authentic: real or genuine; not copied or false; true and accurate (Merriam-Webster)

The quest for authenticity is perhaps the human quest, and it is crucial for writers. Unless we are willing to look at and be who we are (even if that is “nothing” in the Buddhist sense), our writing may be original but it will lack clarity and truth.

Writing from within our authenticity will not only make us better writers but will also make us feel better about our writing.

How do we become more authentic?

I want to suggest a simple first step: pick one thing about yourself that you perceive as a flaw—not something that is imminently dangerous, but some imperfection that nags at you, like being physically lazy or thinking that your laugh is too loud—and forget about trying to change it.

Reframe it to something more positive. Instead of calling yourself lazy, think of yourself as someone who is good at conserving energy. Instead of covering your mouth when you erupt in laughter, throw your head back and let the world see your not-so-pearly whites!

When we stop apologizing for and ruing who we are, our authenticity begins to take care of itself.

2 thoughts on “Writing From Within Authenticity

  1. My father said this same thing to me a few years ago. He’d gone from grumpy to jolly, and I asked him why. “I don’t care what people think about me anymore,” he said. He was going to be who he was regardless. I think he’d come to accept things about himself that he had disliked for so many years.

    The older I get, the more I adopt the “I’m going to be who I am, and I’m going to like who I am, just because I’m me” attitude. At first it was hard, but I found that as I acted on that attitude it became not only easier but more authentic. And it was freeing. Sail through the air on a hang glider type of freeing.

    Because I have young children, my goal is to be a role model of authenticity so that my kids can learn how valuable and healthy it is.

    When I started writing a blog, it was to have an outlet for the things that I wanted to say regardless of what people thought. I don’t get too many readers, but I still write pieces of myself into posts because it validates those pieces as real, unique, and valuable.

    • Deborah, I agree completely that blogging can be used as a way to discover and affirm our authenticity. Your father’s example of having gone from “grumpy to jolly” is telling, and you make an excellent point about being good role models of authenticity to our children. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

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