Masthead header

Category Archives: Writing

Lesley Stefanski, blogging, authentically
When I first started blogging it was more like an online journal entry filled with quick little snippets of my thoughts from that day, or even events and outings. There was nothing significant except for the outrageous spelling mistakes and horrendous grammatical errors. But I wrote for me and me alone. It was the perfect introduction for me to write authentically and honestly.

Then I started writing as an extension of my business everything changed. I started looking to see how other people were writing or expressing themselves and quickly got lost in the world of writing without a voice. I was in constant turmoil because I felt like I couldn’t write or express myself the way that other bloggers could. I felt that I had to use inspiration from their blog topics or categories and write similarly to gain any sort of readership. I became so clouded with everyone else’s words that it took me awhile to realize how lost I was from my own true voice and writing style.

I have been asked on numerous occasions how I have been able to find my own writing style, how to write authentically and honestly in a way that resonates with readers and allows yourself to be set a part.

I feel inadequate to be teaching on how to write authentically since I still feel like I’m on the journey myself, but I will share what I have learned and what I know to be true for me.

 

The guide to Writing and Blogging Authentically:

 

1) What style are you attracted to?

I researched and kept track of the style of writing that appealed to me. This was everything from magazines, blogs, novels, and books. I learned that I enjoyed reading detailed, feminine and sometimes called floral style of writing. It moved me in ways that typically only classical writing has in the past.

I began experimenting with this style of writing and found that although there were a few bumps to overcome, I began to look forward to writing and expressing myself in a more feminine and detailed way.

This style of writing has been called too elaborate for business writing, and though I agree when writing sales pages or contracts, it is completely different for a blog.

2) What topics resonate with you?

This time I took to researching what made my heart skip a beat or flutter a little bit faster when speaking with others. This one took more time as I have lots of interests and passions, but I slowly started to narrow it down to which topics made me the most excited to speak about. I absolutely love to talk about dreams and visions, business and creative industries, and creating a lifestyle that resonates deeply with you.

I then began to experiment with these topics on my blog and took note as to which ones I was having difficulty writing about, which ones came easily, and which ones I was resisting all together.

Typically what I was resisting was the topic that I was going through at the moment or what I needed to write about the most. When I realized I was having difficultly on another topic I assessed whether it was something I truly enjoyed writing about or was forcing myself to write about it because I felt that it complimented the rest of my writing or was ‘expected’ of me because others in my industry wrote about it.

Every topic I wrote about would be assessed with whether I enjoyed writing about it or not and once enough research was gathered I would decide whether it was something I wanted to continue writing about or not.

3) What topics resonate with your readers?

After you have done the research as to what you enjoy writing about now you can start researching what your readers enjoy reading! This one is the most time consuming as the research never ends.

I assess what resonates with my readers through the following avenues:

  • comments and likes on the post, Facebook, or Instagram
  • google analytics and how many click throughs I received through Facebook or Instagram
  • google analytics to view the most popular posts
  • google analytics to view the topics that my readers are most attracted to

Once you have a writing style that you enjoy, topics that you can’t stop writing about, and a list of posts/topics that resonate with your readers you begin to build a strong platform to continue building upon while your tastes and life experiences expand and grow.

Even though you have done all this research you will most likely still have days where you feel like what your writing about has already been written about. You will have days where you feel like you are forcing yourself to write even when you have no desire to press another key on the keyboard. You will wonder if anyone cares if you write another word. You will wonder if you are lost in the sea of all the other bloggers and writers in the world.

I can only say is yes, it probably has already been transcribed by someone else. You are another blog amongst the billions out there. But no matter what, your voice, your thoughts, your views are needed and wanted and even if there is only one reader – write to that one reader.

I’m scared, terrified. Nervous that I’m going to go after something and I’ll fail. That maybe I’ll pick the wrong activity to pursue and I’ll end up wasting my time. This seems to be the story of my life: always too fearful that I’ll fail, before I even start, that I don’t even bother going forward. I can’t actually succeed at anything because I never actually went for it, so no need to feel guilty or not good enough.

I wrote recently that your dream is your dream, and you need to go after it, because you are the only one who can truly make it happen. I seem to have already forgotten my own advice. You see there are so many different avenues, careers, activities I want to pursue; but I want to be great at all of them. I want to feel good while I’m doing it and not heartbroken that something isn’t working out.

In all honesty, I’m exhausted. I’ve paired down my life to just the basics because I can’t handle anything more than that. My days are filled with micro details that somehow morph into the end of the day. And when someone calls and asks me what I’m doing with my life, I say “nothing”.  I honestly don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I told a friend recently that when I turn 100 I still think I will be wondering what I’m supposed to be doing with it. There are just way too many things I want to see, do, and be that I’m scared I’ll never do any of them or won’t be satisfied with what I’ve already done!

One night while Mister and I discussed my frustrations of late, he looked at my tear stained face and asked me for just one simple thing. “Be happy. Do whatever you need to do to be happy, I don’t really care what it is. I just want you to be happy”. At that point my frustrations were boiling down to the fact that I thought I had to do something, anything, like get an office job or reopen my photography business in Vancouver. I didn’t want to do either, and I felt the expectations that I’d have to do one or the other engulfing me, that I almost couldn’t breathe. So when he told me to just be happy, I almost didn’t believe him.

“You don’t expect me to get an office job or continue my photography?” I asked him. “Only, if it makes you happy”. I almost started crying again just from the sense of relief I felt in those simple words. After weeks of hardly get out of bed from the weight of the expectations I had put on myself, the next morning I woke up and started doing the things that actually made me happy. Those are now the micro details that fill up my day.

It’s funny how I don’t even feel one ounce of fear when I’m doing something that makes me happy, it feels natural to me to light a candle and smell the beautiful aromas from it. Or to put my boots on and walk around the city window shopping. It doesn’t even phase me to question why I wouldn’t do it now, it just makes me happy!

So now I wonder, why are we always so scared and terrified to go after the macro details of our life? What is it that instills so much fear that we automatically become fearful of failing that we’d rather not start at all. For instance, I love writing. It brings so much joy and happiness when I actually cave in and write instead of thinking who is going to read it or worse “who am I to even think I have something to say and share with the world?”. Even though it brings me happiness much like lighting candles around my house, it carries it’s own set of fear that the candle never has.

So in the face of this fear, worried that I truly might have nothing to say that is worth sharing with the world, I’m going to share it anyway. I’m going to share my journey of doing the things that make me happy: what it looks like, how it feels, what happens when I step into the macro details that I fear so much, and how I deal with actually going after the desires of my heart. And hopefully along the way, I’ll find the answers as to why we’re always so scared to go after those big things in our life that we know we’ll never be happy with until we do them.

Yesterday afternoon I was tucked into a theater that wasn’t anything like I experienced in Europe, but that was the point. To enjoy all that Vancouver has to offer and just enjoy, not compare. So as I sat in my red velvet chair watching the orchestra swaying back and forth to the music they played and acrobats fly in red fabric from the ceiling I felt deep appreciation well up inside me.

It was an appreciation and a realization that in each of us is this amazing ability to be creative, to express ourselves in so many different forms and that we feel completely alive when we do it. As the performance came to a close I stood up and clapped as loud and hard as I could, showing them I loved that they expressed themselves before me in ways I didn’t consider before.

And as I stood there clapping, it made me wonder, what makes expressing ourselves such a strong desire for some of us. That we can’t go a day without creating something: jewelry, photography, writing, designing a building, a new dance move, a paint brush to canvas, a lyric to music. There are countless ways to express ourselves and our creativity and I am curious, what is your creative expression? And why do you long to do it each day?

Sitting on the now familiar carpet of my childhood bedroom, I put pen to paper and wrote a letter to a friend. He was living abroad at that time and I wanted to send a letter to stay in touch. He knew me best: knew what I was struggling with and what my hopes and fears were. It was during this letter to him that I realized that I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew the type of women I wanted to be.

It was at a time in my life that I felt like I didn’t have control of the circumstances going on in my life. I felt like I was living an ugly black version of the person who I knew was just underneath. I desired to be so much more than the person I currently was and felt that if I wrote out who that person was then perhaps it would give me some direction.

I remember writing ‘cute’, ‘elegant’, ‘soft spoken’, ‘fashionable’, ‘god centered’, and so forth. It was a long list. When I sealed that letter off, it felt like I was putting a message in a bottle – hoping that someway, somehow, someone would see it and come rescue me from myself. Little did I know, that it was a letter more to myself than to him and that it would pave the way to who I was to become.

There is so much pressure to know what you want to do with your life. But have you ever stopped to think that the bigger question is, who do you want to be? How do you want to be described to people and how do you want to come across?

I no longer want to be cute, because I’ve surpassed that. I look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman, one full of flaws and imperfections, but beautiful none the less. I’ve cultivated an elegant exterior but I also know that it’s also apart of my soul to be elegant. I probably won’t ever be soft spoken, as I give and receive passionately and express myself accordingly. However, I know that I have a quiet spirit and that has become more prominent over time. The idea of what god centered meant at that time has changed but my faith is evident in everything I do and lays in something stronger than I ever thought imaginable.

Do you ever think of the type of person you want to be more than what you want to do? Who does that look like, and are you that person or on your way?

We are in the middle of a month long holiday to see some of the most amazing sights we had ever seen, eating some of the most amazing food, and meeting some truly life changing people. We’re feeling like we were living a blessed and rich life.  As we sat overlooking the Italian Riviera watching the ocean wash up against the sandy shore we held hands and marveled at the life we were living. And as I took another long sip of my chilled white wine he suddenly turned to me and said “Do you think that if we made XX amount of money more, we would feel happier, or that our life would somehow be changed?”. I almost choked on my wine and stared at him. (I am leaving out the number because the number doesn’t even matter. What mattered, was the heart of the question.)

I started thinking about all the other things that could be put in place of money. A house, a car, a purse, shoes, or even location. If we did any of those things, do you think we would feel happier or that our life was changed. In a matter of seconds I answered in all honesty, no I don’t believe it would. Sure, life might feel easier but not happier or changed. I know this with every ounce of my being.

And that is what I ask you, do you know what will truly make you happy. Truly in every essence, not what you think will make you happy, but will.