Are You What You Read?

It’s debatable whether you are what you read, but it’s certainly true that what I read influences my writing style. A recent blog by Scott McKnight entitled Tips for Writers speaks to that point.

Have you ever asked the question, “Who do I want to sound like?”
Of course, the best answer is “be yourself,” even or especially when it comes to writing. Roger Ailes wrote a book entitled You are the Message, about speaking in front of a group; but the same applies to communication of any kind. His message was that “it’s you.” Be yourself, and let the message flow from your personality, passion, and enthusiasm for the subject.
But, of the many voices we all have to contrast Christianity and Objectivism, what’s the best one? I have to confess, I don’t intend to reach the same audience that enjoys a 400-page math problem (like some books I know). But I also don’t want to sound friendly, but say nothing. I really like Don Miller and Anne Lamott because of their easygoing, conversational style. They write in a way that I would like to talk! They relax and entertain. But, they don’t answer questions or present thorough arguments; they really just raise questions about issues. C. S. Lewis is a great balance. He has a clear-cut purpose, but his writing feels like a conversation. (It probably helps Mere Christianity that it was a series of radio broadcasts first.)
So, while I’m still hunting for my voice, I have decided not to move away from the academic (read ‘dry’) but not devoid of ideas and arguments; and toward a conversational discussion of provocative insights. I don’t know what’s possible, but it’s exciting to think about.

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2 thoughts on “Are You What You Read?

  1. When I read your post, two things popped into my head, both of which I’m sure you already know, but I say them here just for refreshment, hoping to refresh you in your wonderful labors:

    First would be that we should all remember to write down the 6 major questions she tells us to write down, and then to make sure we write out our answers. It is AMAZING how those help, but they don’t help until the physical writing of the answers occurs.

    Second, would be that she talks SO much about letting one’s subconscious do the writing. It’s kind of ODD that she, of all people, would be so big on something that kind of kooky, but, hey, it worked for her. I think she mostly is about figuring out what needs to be said, as a blueprint, but then letting your subconscious write the whole thing. Maybe that’s how one’s voice ends up showing through, as you kind of talk about in your post.

  2. My friend, Beth, and I came up with the following questions from The Art of Nonfiction:

    1) What do I want to write about (my subject)?
    2) What do I want to say about that subject (my theme or conclusion)?
    3) What is the element of novelty in my theme?
    4) Why should someone else be interested?
    5) Who is my audience and what is their context?
    6) What does the reader need to know to agree with the conclusion?
    7) What do I want the audience to DO with my piece?
    8) Do you doubt that what you want to say is correct?

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