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Fight the Boring Like Your Business Depends on It

(Because hint: it does.)

Swedish House Mafia’s Antidote was rattling the windows.

Scantily dressed women and men were panting and bouncing with the beat, their muscles gleaming. A girl who looked like a Nike commercial stood at the front, bobbing her head and punching the air in time with the music. The message was clear: get moving or get the fuck out.

Not your typical aqua aerobics vibe.

You probably wouldn’t think it to look at me, but I’ve done some serious time on the aqua aerobics circuit — although it’s the most aggressively stupid-looking thing I’ve ever done, it can be a blast.

But a lot of the classes are about what you’d expect: oldies with a moderate beat and light exercise so that you don’t tire out the ladies who were having malts with their steadies when the songs first came out.

And while that can be kind of fun, you don’t see people get super jazzed about it. But Chevon’s class is totally different. Where other people are almost apologetic for their classes (exercise lite for the oldies, to the oldies!), Chevon takes no prisoners. She took a class that’s traditionally seen as a lame duck retirement home activity and did it her style, blowing out the windows and taking no shit.

And not only does it make for a damn fine workout, but a lot of people love it and come to her classes specifically. A few people are offended by the swear words in the songs, and a few got miffed and left when they realized that they couldn’t keep their bouffants dry and do a workout in a pool at the same time, but she doesn’t change it because she knows that a lot of people come just for her and her style.

OK, but why am I telling you about my workouts?

Turns out that the same principles that Chevon uses to make her aqua aerobics classes awesome work for writing too.

Having a bold, authentic voice will do amazing things for your business.

It’s not only attractive as hell — a genuine, clean, human choice in a world of business-speak blah can’t help but attract people — but it also attracts the type of people you want and get rid of the ones that you don’t want.

It’s so tempting to tone things down, to wait until you get a little more experience before you speak out, to apologize when people get their virtual poodle curls wet — but that’s a death sentence. People will grind you down and chip away at you until you’re nothing more than a mediocrity if you let them. 

But if you stand up and refuse to apologize for your work and your voice, you can develop a following, people who come just to hear you because of who you are and what you represent to them. So how do you do this? First, you have to understand your voice and the way that your readers need to hear it. (Which is where I come in.)

But even if you know your voice inside and out, you can’t just let it float. You have to actively fight the boring, the mediocrity.

(AKA cliches, editors with more red ink than sense, the feeling like you’re doing it wrong, the temptation to copy someone else who looks like they’re rocking it). There’s always going to be someone who thinks you should be a little louder, or a little quieter, or a little less sweary, or a little more something. 

Don’t buy it. You’ll end up whittling your voice and what you’re saying down into some bland, boring pablum that any automaton could pop out. It’s your writing, not theirs, so any backseat drivers can either fall in line or get the hell out.

Remember: You don’t have to do it because somebody else does it. You don’t have to think it because somebody else thought it. You don’t have to believe it because somebody else said it (even if it was Seth Godin.)

It’s your writing, your business, your life. But whatever you do, you sure as hell better be doing it your way and your way alone, because if you’re not turning some people off, then chances are you’re not turning anyone on either.

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