When does emulation actually become imitation?

Writing

“Morning folks, how you’se going?”

I’ve just touched down from LAX and the Australian accents swirling around me sound so rounded, deeper, more drawn out.

I’m one of those people that unwittingly adopts accents and starts emulating sayings and phrases, sometimes within minutes of meeting someone. After a week in California, I’ve heard myself ending everything sentence with “right?! “– with a stiff upper inflection to affirm a statement I believe too.

I’ve felt that American confidence and get-straight-to-the-point efficiency coming out in my emails.

I’ve noticed the nuances and quirks of the accent swirling around me, slipping into my sentences and peppering my emails. I’ve heard myself in phone calls with my boyfriend and in gossip sessions by the pool.

I do it out of admiration.

I unwittingly begin to emulate the voices around me that I take notice of.

Which is kind of the same as modelling your writing on your idols, right?! (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

When you look up to someone – or the way a person holds themselves, sells themselves, looks, breathes or just IS – a part of you reverts back to kindergarten you, when you wanted to have the exact same hairstyle as your bestie or high school you when you would just DIE if you didn’t get those cult-brand shoes.

Just look at Instagram for F sake.

The flipside of this, of course, is when you only surround yourself with clones of you (or the ‘you’ you want to be) your inspiration well starts to shrivel up and finding the right words becomes harder than flossing your back molars.

It can also send you deep into the comparison trap as your fellow biz owners, bloggers, writers or influencers seem to come out with kick-ass content right before you planned to write about the goddamn exact. same. thing.

So answer me this….

When does emulation actually become imitation?

And when do you stop being you and start being a mouthpiece for others?

  • You see it when someone’s brash and totally on point new name for a subscription program is ripped right off by someone who wants to BE said brash-name writer.
  • You see it when all the emails landing into your inbox are essentially saying the same thing, just at different times.
  • And if you’re smart, you’ll feel it in your gut whenever you sit down to write something that doesn’t quite feel like what you really want to say.

That’s why expanding your reading library is essential.

Travel is almost mandatory.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the sprinkles on the fairy bread.

Because when you start to experiment, try new things, and say things slightly differently to the way you usually do, you can be sure as hell someone’s going to notice.

And the best person to notice is you.

What if you unsubscribed to three people you admire the most and replaced those with three new content mediums on completely unrelated topics? (Uh huh, you can totally unsubscribe to this one if you’re not feeling it.)

What about a new comedy podcast?

A new magazine written for men?

Or studying the way an accounting firm handles their marketing (when you’re a vegan cupcake baker)?

Look outside your comfort zone and find the zone of YOU.

Tell me: Have you ever found yourself slipping into someone else’s voice and not liking what you heard? What did you do to shake yourself out of it?

PS. Time’s running out to nab yourself an early-bird ticket to Write Like a MOFO – a live copywriting workshop with yours truly and the word maven behind Hello Wordsmith, Jessica Larsen! Save up to $200 each + score epic bonuses worth $596! Need a smokin’ hot new headshot? You can get that too. One-on-one feedback and editing? Yup, sorted.

5 things I wish I knew before I wrote my first About Page

Writing-your-own-about-page

Think about this: before the internet, and before millions of people started logging in on the daily (erm, more like on the minute-ly), there were no such things as About Pages.

There were classified ads and phone books, and magazines and newspapers, but when it came to business, the sign out front of your shop – and the word of mouth reputation that grew around you – was as good as it got in the getting to know you stakes.

So invariably, when sites like Myspace popped up and we started writing about ourselves, trying to come across witty and cool (while simultaneously freaking about whether we should write in first or third person, and wondering if there are any rules in this crazy bronco-bucking wild west online world anyway!?), the art of the online bio started to take shape.

Some people thought they had to be cutesy and write haikus or poetry.

Some felt they needed to share their deepest, darkest secrets, shaking all the skeletons out of their closets (and regretting it immediately afterwards).

Then Twitter came on the scene and bios became the listicle that forces you to be clever, in 140 characters or less.

Now, writing an About Page is like crafting an elevator pitch, writing an eHarmony profile, penning an email to a dear friend and running for president all in one (hopefully) shit-hot 200-word package.

So if you’ve found yourself staring at a blank screen when tasked with writing about yourself for your website…

If you’ve been sitting on a blurb for your Facebook group since the start of the year, too afraid to press publish for what might happen afterwards…

It’s okay.

You didn’t know how to ride a bike until you learned, either.

Before I wrote my first About Page, I didn’t know…

Looking at other people’s websites will 100% do your head in

Gathering inspiration and looking at what other businesses are doing is great for research but absolutely fucking terrible for your self-confidence if you start to spiral into a comparison trap.

There are some schools of thought that preach all About Pages should follow a set format, that there’s a correct way to write your valuable piece of online real estate.

But no matter what other people are doing in their online homes, stepping outside of that, separating yourself from the noise and thinking only about what YOU do and what YOU offer the world, will bring up some really valuable writing ammo.

Disconnect, use a notebook if you have to, and turn your focus inwards. Sure, there are tips and tricks to adding the power of persuasion, humour and personality to your prose, but they can all come in the editing process.

You will feel like a complete and utter wanker (and totally not worthy of the words on the page)

It’s unavoidable. We’ve been conditioned to think that tooting our own horns is blasphemous. We feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves and shy about sharing our achievements and – more importantly – our opinions with the world.

But when you strip everything back to the blank page on the dot com you’ve bought for your biz, the world really is yours. Take the stage, own what you offer, and don’t worry about anyone judging.

You’ll start to think childbirth is easier

Could it be considered a form of torture sitting in front of a bright white word document with that evil cursor flashing back at you? Hour after hour as you experiment with putting a few words down and then backspace the shit out of it and huff and puff your frustration all over the keyboard?

I freaking hate sports analogies, but you’ve got to push through the pain barrier – there is a euphoric high on the other side (though don’t tell me it can be achieved by running, I’ve tried and it does not exist). If it was as simplistic as you wish it to be, I’d be out of business.

You’ll feel paralysed by fear as soon as you press publish or send (especially if you press send and it whizzes off in cyberspace to your online idol)

Judgement. It’s a scary mofo. Pressing publish means putting yourself out there, standing on that stage with the mic in your hand.

Only by forcing yourself through those scary and difficult times will you grow. Just ask yourself, what’s the absolute worst that can happen? If all you can come up with is someone unsubscribing or your idol not replying, is it really so bad?

No-one else knows what they’re doing either

The best thing about the internet is its fluidity. Your page can change continuously. Nothing is permanent, and everything is malleable. Test things out, see what resonates best with your audience.

Do you start to receive positive feedback about your style? Or are you receiving more and more questions from mystified customers who don’t seem to truly understand what you’re all about? How can you address that?

What about you? Is there anything you wish you knew before you wrote your first About Page?

Write Like a MOFO copywriting workshop