23 things to do when you’re frustrated your writing doesn’t ‘sound’ like you (aka how to rip the giant stick out of your writing’s ass)

It’s as common as a re-run of The Big Bang Theory.

You sit feeling stifled by responsibility, political correctness, or the fact those bitches at the school drop-off will have an opinion on what you write.

So you edit yourself down. You struggle to get the words out because you’re holding them back behind the floodgates (the ones that are usually cracked open after your third glass of chardonnay on a Wednesday night).

You tell your personality to shut it and sit in the corner, and in the process, little parts of that personality start playing a looooooong game of Hide and Seek, without you knowing you’re supposed to go looking.

Next time you feel like you can’t write the way you talk – or that you have to place a filter over your thoughts before you translate them onto the page – use one of these personality resuscitation methods. Stat.

1. Write whatever it is you’re trying to write as an email to a dear friend who has asked for your help.

2. Dictate as if you’re on the phone with a friend and then type it out from there. Even better, use an app like Dragon. I’ve been playing around with the voice recorder in Google Docs lately and it works surprisingly well (FYI it’ll censor swearing, though!).

3. Dig into your sent emails – not the boring work ones, but the ones where you’ve been giving out advice to a friend – and really take notice of the language you use.

4. Do a quick poll of your friends and ask them to describe your personality in three words. Let those words be your anchors when you know you need to shake off that corporate cloak.

5. Analyse a sentence or paragraph in your writing where you felt you had to go ‘safe’ (for fear of being attacked, losing your job, whatever it might be!). Write it again, then underneath, write what you really wish you’d said.

6. Ask a friend to read over your work – a real, no-holds-barred friend, ideally not someone in the same industry as you.

7. Record yourself reading your piece of writing out loud and feel where the unnatural parts are – where does it stop flowing and sound like Suzy-got-a-stick-up-her-butt?

8. Look to writers you admire – ones that really put their heart and personality into their prose. How do you feel them in their words? Really analyse which words or stylistic patterns make them stand out, then look to do the same in your work (in your own kick-ass style, of course).

9. Write a list of all the things you want to be known for.

10. Write a list of all the things you don’t want to be known for. (Now stick both those lists up above your computer or save ‘em to your phone so you can reflect on them when you’re having a stiff copy moment.

11. Try video instead. It doesn’t have to be slick. Start with Snapchat, do a live broadcast on Facebook or just film yourself on your laptop. Even better if you know it’ll never see the light of day – then you can really let fly.

12. Give yourself a break (you know, the actually put some pants on and get outside the house and breathe kind of break).

13. Take to Twitter like it’s 2007.

14. Start writing what you really want to say on an anonymous blog. Or, you know, go old school with a journal and pen.

15. Allow yourself to have an opinion.

16. Get cynical. There’s already enough bullshit online, you don’t want to be responsible for adding to the festering pile.

17. Write as though you’re writing to a five year old.

18. Imagine yourself as 80-year-old you, looking back on your life. What do you wish you’d said?

19. Read or listen to something or someone that makes you laugh.

20. Watch a movie with a powerhouse lead. I just watched Jennifer Lawrence own it in Joy on a flight back from the States and self-belief is EVERYTHING.

21. Channel Beyonce. #nuffsaid

22. Stop asking yourself if it’s good enough and just press publish – refinement of your voice comes from consistency and perseverance. Not in one completely polished blog post or email. Remember, if you connect with even one person, you’ve made a difference.

23. Face the fear and tell it to go fuck itself. You’ve got this.

Do you have any other prompts you use to inject your personality into your writing? I’m always on the hunt for more.


Write Like a MOFO copywriting workshop

Project Showcase: The secret side of the Great Barrier Reef ebook

TSV-eBook-CoverI’m a magazine girl through and through. I love the tangible feel of magazines, their smell, the excitement of flicking through a new issue.

But I have to say, being able to turnaround digital ebook projects in a third of the time it used to take to print a magazine or speciality publication when I worked for Pacific Magazines (the Total Girl Party Book was one of my absolute fave projects!), and seeing it come to live in retina display is a whole new buzz of its own.

Recently, The Devil Wears Flip Flops team and I were tasked with putting a spotlight on the unknown Great Barrier Reef experiences available in sunny Townsville North Queensland (and this place is literally one of the sunniest spots in the world with 320 days of the sweet stuff per year).

My photographer wing-woman, Krista, and I flew up to Townsville and spent five days throwing ourselves into the deep blue and hooning around Magnetic Island in topless cars all in the name of hunting down the best stories and capturing the beauty of this region so we could present it in this awesome new ebook, The Secret Side of the Great Barrier Reef.




It wasn’t all us, though. Gorgeous Instagrammer @gypsea_lust and her sister @elsas_wholesomelife provided some absolutely epic shots (not to mention totally enviable wardrobe choices) for the ebook, making it pop!

What goes into developing an ebook like this? We spent around two weeks working with the team from Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) to develop the idea and map out the stories we wanted to gather while we were there.

From there, we put together a flatplan – literally a map of what’s to go on each page – and set about researching the stories and gathering visual inspiration on a private Pinterest board while the TEQ team put together an itinerary for our trip.

First-person experience is absolutely invaluable when it comes to a project like this. In order to bring a region and its tourism options alive, you need to live and breathe them.

After our trip, a solid week was spent transcribing interviews, writing features, editing photos, creating illustrations, and getting everything ready for approval by the team.

We then designed the ebook over two days and the sub-editing and approval process began!

As well as being featured on Tourism and Events Queensland’s consumer travel blog, Hello Sunshine, the ebook is being promoted via Facebook and channeled out via the operators included in the ebook and the local tourism organisation.

If you’re thinking of planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, definitely have a read and download it to your device of choice.

We’d love to know what you think!

PS. If you want to stay up to date with blog posts from Hello Sunshine, we also look after the weekly email newsletter that pops into inboxes every Thursday at 7am. It’ll have you yearning for blue skies and palm trees.