By Jennifer Blanchard
“Be Yourself; Everyone else is already taken,”—Oscar Wilde
Last summer, I bowled on a Monday night mixed bowling league. And I noticed something—Everyone had their own unique way of throwing the ball down the lane.
One guy lifted his left arm up in the air, then as he brought it down, he threw the ball with his right arm. The girl in the lane next to me approached the lane, stopped in front of it and then threw the ball. Another guy twisted his arm awkwardly and spun the ball down the lane.
But overall, everyone had the same goal: Knock down as many pins as possible.
Writing is kind of the same deal.
Everyone (more or less) has the same goal: Gain a readership.
Unfortunately, many writers spend a lot of their time trying to emulate other successful writers.
And while it’s not a bad idea to learn from the successes of others, copying them is not the way for you to be successful.
Instead, I advocate that you embrace what makes you, you.
You are a unique individual. You bring something to the table that no one else does. So why try to be anyone, but who you are?
Imitation Isn’t Always Flattering
Sure, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But is it really?
Think about it—When you read something from a writer who is clearly trying to imitate another writer, does it make you want to keep reading? Or does it make you think—“Wow, this guy really thinks he’s Stephen King (or whoever), but he’s not,”?
Look at it from this angle—When a group of musicians are so influenced by a popular band that they try to emulate that band’s sound, how does the music usually come out? Sounding like a bad version of whatever band they tried to copy.
Here’s why: Because there is only one of that band. There’s only one Incubus. There’s only one U2. There’s only one Stephen King. So anything else will always be a rip-off.
If you’re ready to stop trying to be someone you’re not, here are some steps you can take to embrace who you are:
- Discover What Makes You Who You Are—Are you a jokester? Do you tend to tell-it-like-it-is? These characteristics make you different, and will shine through in your writing if you let them.
- Love Yourself—People will come and go out of your life; you are the only one who will always be with you. That’s why you need to love yourself for exactly who, what and how you are. Because when you love and accept yourself, others will love and accept you too. Also, when you love and embrace who you are, you’ll be more confident in your writing.
- Highlight What Makes You, You—Bloggers, such as Naomi Dunford or Leo Babauta, have gotten popular in the blogging world because they’ve fully embraced who they are. Dunford has quite a mouth on her, and she’s not afraid to use it in her writing. Babauta is famous for being a minimalist and teaching others to live a Zen lifestyle.
Whatever makes you who you are—whether that be humor or wit or sarcasm or niceness or being a smarty-pants—embrace it. And use it in your writing.
- Be Your Own Number One Fan—You’re a fan of so many things. Why not be also be a fan of yourself?
I am Jennifer Blanchard’s number one fan. I’m the one who is always there to cheer her on and pick her up when she falls down. I’m the one who has been there for her through everything. And I’m the only one who will always be with her.
That’s why I’ve fully embraced being Jennifer Blanchard.
The truth is, not everyone likes me. Some people dislike my writing. Some people dislike the way I live my life. Others dislike my views and beliefs.
I’ve always been a little bit different than everyone around me (My family says I’m the “black sheep”). I’ve always made different choices. I’ve always done things my way.
When it comes down to it, though, I am who I am. Just like you are who you are.
Not everyone is a fan of me.
But I’m a fan of myself. And that’s enough for me.
Plus, originality rocks.
“You came into this world as an original; don’t leave it as a copy”–Anonymous
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.