Louder Than Words is the latest book from Todd Henry. The author behind Die Empty and popular Podcast ‘Beyond the To-Do List’ wrote this volume as us a treatise on how to write authentically, in order to make yourself heard.
Being heard is becoming more difficult every day, as more people, businesses, and products are all competing for attention in an increasingly loud world. The collective clamour of all those people struggling for centre stage turns everything into white noise, making it impossible to focus on any one of those individual voices. Todd Henry fix for this rather troublesome predicament is painfully simple, and in some ways unoriginal: be yourself, use your authentic voice, and you will reach through that noise and successfully convey your messages to others.
Authenticity and being true to yourself is hardly new as cocepts, but for most people they’re difficult tasks. We are taught to write in a general manner throughout school and once we enter the workplace. The overwhelming message the majority of us receive from the world is contrary to the concept of authenticity. Certainly the message I got growing up was very negative in this regard.
Fit in. Be normal. Be ordinary. Don’t make a scene. Don’t stand out from the crowd. It’s lonely on your own, and there are wolves in the forest…
It’s fortunate for me that I really like wolves, because I was never one for fitting in, but for many people this is ingrained: don’t be different, different is bad.
Louder Than Words tackles the question of how to write authentically considerable clarity. Henry clearly demonstrates that it’s all about breaking down the rules we have learned, and creating a personal style of writing and voice. As a writer, I’m totally on board with this – style and voice are two key things every budding writing MUST develop if they want to succeed. But it’s a difficult process. The strategies and points in Louder Than Words are organised and presented in a way that makes them easy to understand. There are also online resources that you can use to help you learn how to write authentically.
There are times when the material in the book is a little dry. You also have to take the time to consider Todd Henry’s central message, and how it affects your style of writing. It’s perhaps not a book to sit down and read, start to finish, but one to take in chunks so you can absorb and mull over everything before moving on to the next chapter, after you’ve given your brain a rest. It’s a book you can dip back into to reaffirm and further explore elements that particularly stood our for you.
If you’re in the process of developing your writing style, it’s a must read. Even if you’re a seasoned pro, it’s well worth a look. Each of the chapters covers one part of how and why we write. There are also chapters that cover topics like narrative, rejection, setbacks, and fears that you could face. Louder Than Words has strategies, stories and exercises in every chapter to help you along the path to finding your voice. It’s s a great resource on how to write authentically and certainly has some good tips on staying organised, but it’s perhaps not for everyone. If you’re a seasoned writer you may (like me) find it a little…obvious. There are times it feels forced, and other when the information presented doesn’t have a natural flow to it (this is due to the structure of the book). If you’re not as finicity as me, you likely wouldn’t notice, but it bugged me, so fair warning!