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How to Increase Integrity in Your Writing

When it comes to business, having integrity is critical. If clients don’t believe you’re true to your word, your business suffers. 

But how does integrity play a role in your writing? 

Here’s my take: If you wouldn’t say a particular word when speaking, you shouldn’t use it in your writing, either. 

Just as it does in business, a lack of integrity in writing can come back to bite you. 

When I was still teaching at the college, I once participated in a plagiarism case. I’ll never forget the student whose work was examined. 

After reading her essay, our committee was unanimous that it couldn’t have been her own work (her regular teacher was very familiar with her in-class writing, and this wasn’t it). Still, we gave her the benefit of the doubt. 

As the student sat across the table from us, we each asked a question about the essay. When it was my turn, I said, “In this sentence, you write: ‘the...

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An Important Distinction to Help Your Writing

[Image: Chen on Pixabay]

I remember the first time I was asked to speak at a conference. My immediate thought was, “But I’m a writer, not a speaker! Who will want to listen to me? I've got nothing worthwhile to say. . .”

Far too many of us fall into this trap of “I’m not good enough” when we consider what we’ll write, too. The problem is, we’re comparing ourselves to the A-listers out there, the famous writers--and we see ourselves falling short. 

For instance, I thought about all the great TEDx talks I’d watched on YouTube and how wonderful those speakers were. Or the keynote speakers I’d observed online, where I listened to big names like Tony Robbins, Brene Brown  or Simon Sinek. 

Well, compare yourself to those guys, and no wonder it's hard to measure up.  

But here’s a different perspective. I learned this from my mentor in university, and have found it really useful over the years.


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Notwithstanding (Why You Must Sound Like You in Your Writing)

I was there as a tourist, so to speak. My roommate was asked to lecture on her area of expertise (set design) to a university class, and I was there to provide feedback and emotional support. 

I was excited to hear her since I loved everything to do with drama and had always dreamed of becoming an actor.

(That dream was shattered once I actually got a bit part in a play and had to repeat the exact same lines four nights in a row. Phantom of the Opera cast, how did you not lose your sanity?!).

I sat in the front row (because that’s what keeners do), ready to take notes. 

My friend appeared, dressed in a knee-length pencil skirt and blouse buttoned up to her neck. She looked like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Except normally, she wore long, floor-length flowing skirts covered in bright flowers and embroidery, cowboy boots, chunky hand-knit sweaters, hair long and loose. 

The class fell silent. And then, she began. 


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It Didn't Even Sound Like Her

It certainly wasn't the way I would have done it. 

I took an online course with a well-known author, who shared his writing process and how he had written three bestselling novels. 

Someone asked about how he revised: did he rewrite directly on the page, or use the first file as a template to then rewrite the content elsewhere?

He did neither.

“I use my first draft as a way to really discover what it is I want to say,” he told us. “I actually find my story and characters while writing. Then, when it’s time to revise, I don’t even look at the first draft again. I just write the novel from scratch as it now exists in my head.”

Wow. Seemed like a lot of work!

My own method couldn’t be more different. I might begin a draft and then revise certain scenes along the way, most often before the entire manuscript is even completed. Further revisions follow.

When I hired a book coach, her approach was different still.


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She Wouldn't Share

When I was 15, I had a great summer job as a mother’s helper (similar to what the French call an au pair, or basically a glorified babysitter-cum-housekeeper).

It was in a suburb of Boston with two well-behaved kids that I knew well. I also got to spend time with a group of kids I knew, one of whom was around my age. Plus, the job offered a private bedroom, amazing food and even the occasional restaurant meal included. 

You see, my employers were my second cousins, both in their 30s and, as I saw them then, two of the coolest people on the planet (actually, I continued to think of them that way right through to the present). 

On weekends, we’d visit the home of my cousin’s mother, Aunt Irene (I still don’t know if she was actually my aunt, or my great-aunt, or maybe my second aunt once removed?). 

Irene was a formidable matriarch, at the time already in her late 80s, still living alone and doing all the work to keep her house in order....

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