I have been pondering the idea of authenticity and its link with writing, with branding and strategy and with the private self for some time. In fact, some of my earliest posts were on what it means to be authentic. For some reason it keeps coming back to a sense of writing voice or writing style … and this post from Lewis Green got me thinking on this topic some more — for it seems that we blogging folks go through a kind of metamorphosis the longer we write, engage, listen, discuss and collaborate with our readers and the wider online community. And it is this process of personal change that I find intriguing.
There have been many recent examples of these changes … and sometimes this change occurs through a conscious decision while at other times it is a change enforced by a series of events. My buddy, Sean Howard, has been doing some digging around this area for a while and seems to be making some progress. As you may know, the charming CK had these changes forced upon her as did I some time ago. And currently unfolding over at Marcus Brown’s blog is an amazing and searing, slow-cooked story of personal challenge and change.
No matter what the catalyst for this change is, the desire to share its story or to flee from it is powerful, and it takes great strength and courage to do both — for of course, one can never ESCAPE from one’s own story. The question is only one of TELLING.
In many ways, this process reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — but with a twist. On the base level there are PHYSIOLOGICAL needs for blogging (or for any kind of writing). We need a computer or a pen and paper. On the next level rather than safety, there is a need for time to THINK, create and write. Up from there is COMMUNITY, a sense of belonging and of our place within a group. REPUTATION is the point at which the "higher needs" begin to be addressed — with a focus on leadership and an emerging sense of values. The pinnacle in this model is a form of actualisation based on ETHICS.
At every transition point, a change in VOICE occurs because there is a corresponding change in the writer. And at the higher levels of the pyramid, the separation between what we say and what we do in the world evaporates. Gradually, from behind the mask, the real person/writer appears in full view.
Of course, the interesting thing about this is … that the process never ends. No matter where you are there is always room for more growth.