*Originally published January 2016*
When I went to college in the Fall of 2009, my creative writing professor quickly introduced me to Anne Lamott. This quirky, fiery author speaks boldly about her faith, being a single mom, and some other tough issues, but she also talks about finding our voice through writing. Anne Lamott first made me realize that everyone out there has something to say, whether they know how to say it or not. She also showed me that every writer has originality, because we all have our own writing voice.
“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability..."This truth has stuck with me as a blogger. When I have a post idea that I'd like to write about, but then I see that someone has already written on the subject and done a very good job, my natural reaction is to shrink back and decide that I could not write it as well as the other person did. I also tend to feel that if I write the "same" post as someone else, then I am not being original. But I could never write the same post as someone else. This is because no one can write something the same way that I do. I am not the same as another blogger, which is precisely why I have something to offer.
-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
It's easy to feel like we can't measure up, but we can. There is always a risk when we put ourselves out there- allowing the whole world to peer into our souls through our written words. But when we realize that our words are powerful, and that we have the ability to make a real difference, then it is much easier to keep on typing. We can't (and shouldn't) write a post in the same way someone else did, but what we can do is write a post with honesty-with love- and we can share it in hopes of reaching someone who needed to read what we wrote, in the way that we wrote it.
Different people connect with and understand different styles of writing. My husband can read something and report to me that it was excellent. However, I may read the same thing and get absolutely nothing out of it.
Why is this?
It's because every author writes in their own voice. This means that every single writer out there has originality, because no one else can write exactly the way they do. And in the same way, each reader is going to connect with the text in a different way. What speaks to me will mean nothing to another. What helps someone else may not help me at all. And that's ok.
The fact of the matter is, originality does still exist. We may write about the same topics, but we will never bring it to life in the same way. There are some people that my writing will never help, but there are other people who need my writing. They will be helped by me (really by God) in a way that no one else has helped them.
So next time you are tempted to put down your pen or close your laptop because you feel like you have nothing left to say, remember that you do have originality, and you absolutely have something important to say. Harness it, write it, and share it.
Do you believe you have something important to say? Why or why not?