How to put yourself into every single thing you write.


If you're a business writer, or even an aspiring screenwriter, the chances of your expressing your innermost self through your work -- and getting your audience to read or hear it -- are two: slim and fat.

That doesn't mean you should avoid writing passion pieces: oh, no! However, you should also endeavor to put a little piece of yourself, however small, in everything you write. 


A little process I call the core sample.  It takes some introspection, but you have to do it only once, and it will guide you on everything you write from then on. 

It comprises two simple (if not always easy) steps: 

  1. Core Principles: Take some time and some quiet and write a list of ten principles that you believe people should live by. Not stuff you've heard actors in rubber costumes say right before they kill other people in recent movies, nor your version of what Tony Robbins or your rabbi said. Something that resonates for you;  things you've never before said aloud. These are some of your core principles. Here's one of mine: "People should treat those they love best at least as well as they treat total strangers."
  2. Core Beliefs: This is a little tougher, because it requires candor, honesty and self-awareness. It's another list, but this time ten things you believe to your core. Not things you want to believe, or feel you should believe, or aspire to believe, but things your life experience has shown you that you actually believe, for whatever psychological or spiritual reason (of which, incidentally, you are probably at best only partially aware). These are some of your core beliefs. Unlike your core principles, these may not be so pretty. Here's one of mine: "People treat other people nicer when they want something from them." 

The next time you begin a writing project, review your core sample and see if you can infuse your writing with at least one of your principles and one of your beliefs. It might be at the structure stage, or dialog, or character. It's okay to bend, rasp and twist the concepts to better mold them to the assignment at hand. But if you remain true to the essence of the beliefs and principles, you will inhabit your writing in a subtle yet distinctive way. You'll put your fingerprint on it. Your project, even a generic one, will become yours in a way that goes beyond style. Your audience will pick up on this and feel your writing as ineffably... you. And you may even be able to get it past your boss. 

A bonus of the core sample is that it will start you (or further you) on the road to self-knowledge. Awareness of your own core beliefs and principles is one important step toward creating the best, most important writing of all: the story of your own life. 

Feed back on this post below, or share one of your core beliefs or principles.