On Writing

April 2, 2005

The writing style: be yourself

Easier to say than to do


Be you; be true; be emotional; tell what you really think; reveal who you are; don't hide...


How easy it was to read these words...


How hard it is to follow these instructions...


Writers that follow this path make the best writings, no doubts. Readers love to read how and what the writers think. Readers like to know the moods and emotions a writer's experiencing. Readers like to know that writers are like them, humans with forces and weaknesses.


How to become such a writer? Personally, it's a lot work. It's not easy to write and talk as freely as this. It's no natural to me to talk as deeply as I wish. I have a strong censor. A voice that talk to me each time I'm about to say or write something. I think it's a sort of fear; a fear of being discovered: truly discovered.


This censor seems to be in every human being. Da Vinci had his and tried to work around it to create all his incredible innovations.


I try to tame it. I try, slowly, to get rid of this fear, to open myself to my relatives. I try personifying my writings... I try to be myself.


The process is slow and hard. I never expected that it would be as hard as it is. In reality, I never expected to write and talk, truly, about me.


How I work on this fear? Step by step.


By example, I sent an email of my article about Internet in High Schools to my friend teacher (the protagonist of the article). She seemed to be really happy to read it. We talked about it and I tell her that I was not sure if I should send it to her. She asked, puzzled, why? My answer: I donít know. It was not really true, it was my censor that tried to stop me; my fear.


Which fear? She is probably asking.

--I donít know.


But I done it and it helped me in my process.


I try and I'm trying hard. What help me to continue? I see benefits. I learn on myself in the process.




What make me to talk about this today? Two things: my talk with my friend about my high schools article and my current rage of reading about writing.


I'm currently reading On Writing Well. The book goes in search of two of the most important qualities of a good writing: humanity and warmth.


"Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is. I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest meósome scientific quest, perhaps. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field. How was he drawn in it? What emotional baggage did he bring along? How did it change his life? Itís not necessary to want to spend a year alone at Walden Pond to become involved with a writer who did.


This is the personal transaction thatís at the heart of good nonfiction writing."



He is right. It's what people like to read. The best blog posts are them where I can ear the voice of the writer.



            "           "Who am I to say what I think?" they ask. "Or what I feel?"

                        "Who are you not to say what you think?" I tell them.

                        "There's only one you. Nobody else thinks or feels in exactly the same way."

                        "But nobody cares about my opinions," they say. "It would make me feel conspicuous."

"They'll care if you tell them something interesting," I say, "and tell them in words that come naturally".   "


            "Still, we have become a society fearful of revealing who we are."


I can easily visualize myself in this conversation with William Zinsser. Is it a rational or irrational fear? I wish I would be able to answer to this question soon.


In the same trend, I would like to finish this post with two quotes of a book I'm reading in parallel with On Writing Well: Mes Démons by Edgar Morin; one of the most influence French sociologist. This book is his short autobiography and a repository of ideas that haunt him since ages.


            "[..] voulais-je avant tout affirmer une fidélité à moi-même et à mes idées. "


"En 1958, au terme d'Autocritique, je me posais la question : Ai-je été sincère?, et je comprenais que la réponse à cette question était indécidable : La sincérité níest pas une pure flamme qui jaillit de l'esprit; la volonté d'être sincère, quand il s'agit díêtre sincère sur soi, se perd toujours dans les labyrinthes et les doubles fonds intérieurs... La sincérité ne peut être pure quíà un moment particulier de combustion entre les gaz qui la nourissent et la fumée qui síen dégage.


            Aujourd'hui, avant de commencer, je me demande : "Serai-je véridique? " [...] "




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