Stop Over Editing and Find Your Authentic Writing Style

Stop over editing and find your authentic writing style.

Are you at all like me, naturally quiet yet verbose in writing?

Even if you aren’t either of these,

You might have beliefs or stories that influence your writing.

Like the reactions of others: “Who’s going to read all that? No one has the time to get through that long piece.”
Or baked-in beliefs: “I’ve got to be practical and concise.”
Or your own feelings: “It’s too vulnerable to see my thoughts fully expressed in writing.”

A mentor recently reminded me, “Your writing does not have to be brief.” I’ve similarly told clients that it’s not always all about the word count; you may intentionally choose a length that suits your personal style and purpose for the writing.

Yet as soon as I heard those words,

I realized I was unconsciously edited my writing down as tight as possible,

trying to take on the succinct styles of those I admired.

These tendencies to mimic and over-edit haven’t served me. They limited my true voice because brevity is quite the opposite of my natural style. In my writing, I tend to be lyrical, emotionally expressive, and much wordier than I speak.

The issue is that when the words are heavily pared down and edited, they can lose some of their inherent authentic resonance.

My experience with a picture book I worked on is a good example since it had such little text to begin with. The average word count for picture books is 500-600 words. I edited, and edited, and edited this story. I incorporated feedback from one person after another. And at some point, it lost the juice—the energetic heart. The words lost their melodious lyricism. As this happened, I lost my connection to the piece and had to set it down.

Revision is important. It acts like a piece of sandstone, polishing until the piece shines. Yet painful underlying beliefs can drive a need for perfection, to remove vulnerability, or to meet a misaligned standard.

Once I realized that I was feeling tight and contracted when writing instead of open and expressive the way I wanted to be, I was able to name the fears. Fear I was “too much”—too wordy, too emotive, too mystical. Fear I was “not enough”—not good enough, not interesting enough, not worthy enough to be read.

I gave myself permission not to be brief for the sake of being brief.

I wouldn’t be able to authentically connect with those I wanted to, with these fears holding me back.

As I let myself be more open with my words, I tapped into the pleasure of writing. I found myself playing with alliteration. Delighting in the natural rhythm the words took on, and their soothing cadence as they were read. The moment I started getting into my head to force a rhyme, I could let it go.

I also noticed vulnerability—“Oh so that’s how I really sound…yikes!” I’d gotten so used to tamping down certain parts of myself (like trading in the emotional and spiritual undertones for practicality). Yet I also cracked myself up—“Well, of course. Of course that’s who I am.” What am I surprised about? I’ve been here all along.


Perhaps as I did, you might try naming the criticisms and fears you’ve internalized about your writing. Then you can play with a new intention of connecting to your true authentic voice and natural style. The place where you can be yourself and find joy.

I hope you too can laugh at yourself, and the seriousness that may seep in. I hope you can find your words connecting you to who you really are.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can comment on this post and let me know.

About the author

I help people reconnect to themselves and tell stories that make their soul sing.

I am a certified coach, writing mentor, writer, and group facilitator who enjoys helping people who’ve felt different to write from the heart.

Since 2008, I’ve worked with writers in every messy step of the creation process. I’m passionate about delving deep into the story underneath the story — the root cause of the struggle with self-expression — so you can feel good about the results.

For more, I invite you to sign up for my mailing list or explore how we can work together.

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