Writing That Speaks Your Truth
Journalists are trained to speak the truth of an issue. They do this by getting information from both sides of an issue or many sides. They lay it out in the story so others can read it and make up their own minds which source to believe and trust. While personal biases aren’t supposed to be in the story, often, journalists let their beliefs enter into the copy. However, most do try not to let biases enter into the copy. In some of my stories, I will admit that I had a preconceived notion going in, but I changed the direction of the piece after talking with the experts.
However, I will admit that sometimes the media are biased. That is sad because speaking truth is one of our most precious gifts as journalists. We are given rights in the Constitution because people need to know certain information. That is why I became a journalist to help people know and understand the world around them. I am especially proud of the fact that I spent most of my career writing about the environment. This affects everyone, and people get bombarded with misinformation about it every day.
It sounds like I am rambling about something that won’t help you write your book, but I do have a point. Nonfiction is the type of book-writing that is supposed to be based on speaking your truths. When you write a nonfiction book, you are supposed to draw on your experiences, interview experts in the field and source credible information (otherwise known as looking at historical or government documents, not public relations from companies promoting products). These books usually have glossaries and bibliographies at the end. Some will have end notes or a page of footnotes. Those aren’t as necessary in books as in research papers because the bibliographies at the end are understood that you quoted the research throughout the book. However, I often read nonfiction books that do not have any basis in fact or are written from promotional materials for products. You need to take the extra effort to ensure you speak true words.
Be Honest in Your Vision
People who want to write a book to promote their health and wellness business often have an idea in their head on how it should look, but they are unable to get that vision on paper. I find the easiest way to produce your vision in your head with words on paper or on a computer is to be honest. You have to be honest with what you believe, what you want to say and what you need to write. Do the research necessary to find the truth in your vision.
Once you have a kernel of truth about what you want to say, you can sit and just write. Don’t worry about flow or organization as I mentioned in previous columns. Those you will fix later. The more honest you are about your vision, the easier the words will flow. And, believe it or not, the organization and flow of your book will happen naturally. However, if you try to write something that goes against your beliefs or is dishonest, you will have trouble putting it on paper. You have to believe with your whole heart and mind that what you have to say is true to yourself, your vision and the world.
For example, let’s say you want to write a book about an alternative treatment for an illness. You have an idea for the book, but after you speak with experts, you don’t believe that your original idea for the book is valid. In that case, if you try to write the original idea, you will have writers’ block because you no longer believe it to be true. You are not being honest with your vision.
Verify Your Sources
Verifying your sources is journalism jargon that means you need more than one person to say the same thing. If you are writing a book, to be truthful, you better have three or four saying the same thing. The more you have the better, and the more the experts based their opinion on scientific research, the more honest your words become. However, it isn’t enough to have 10 people say the same thing based on scientific evidence. The book doesn’t speak truth until the 10 people are compared against one who doesn’t believe the scientific evidence. You always have to have contrary opinions in stories and books to lend credibility to your writing. People will read it and draw their own conclusions.
If you decide not to take the time to do the research for both matching your vision and disagreeing with your vision, you will not have quality content to put in a book, and you will produce something that no one will believe or read.