You Are Fascinating

Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.

I know. That idea is contradictory to what most people will tell you. Everyone is original? Everyone does have a talent? Yes. Every person does have a story to tell. Granted, some stories are flashier than others (especially if you’re an LA girl who marries a cowboy and moves to the ranch to raise cattle) but that doesn’t mean your life (in a tiny apartment in Paris) isn’t worth writing about.

Making something from nothing is daunting. Sustaining the life of your food blog requires commitment and inspiration. Some people turn to friends for creative encouragement. Others seek inspirational stimulation from a good speech, a well-placed sermon, a great movie, a beautiful piece of art, nature, or a workshop. It’s easy to miss the tiny voice of encouragement inside of you when there are plenty of people around feeding you information that cuts away at your self-confidence.

Don’t believe the voices that tell you that what you do isn’t special. You are.

“Remember these two things: you are talented, and you are original. Be sure of that. I say this because self-trust is one of the very most important things in writing.” –Brenda Ueland, “If You Want to Write”

Some notes on finding your voice:

  • On your way to figure out who you are, take notes. Show your readers—through words—who you are while you cook, shop, and do the things you enjoy.
  • Don’t try to write in a style you think WE want to read. Write the way you think.
  • Avoid easy, superficial or automatic language.
  • Your words should be true, tested inwardly, and based on something that means something to you.

A writing exercise:

  • Describe who you are when you go to the farmers market. Remember, it isn’t important that you go to the market. It’s who you are when you’re at the market. What makes you happy, nervous, excited, shut down?
  • Describe who you are when you go to the grocery store. What’s different about you in this place? Is there something that annoys you about the smell of your market? Does the spice/meat/international aisle freak you out?

Tell us: What inspires you to get honest and tell good stories on your blog?

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Brooke Burton nominated for best food writing

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

69 Comments

  1. January 30
    Reply

    Thank you Brooke – it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it and that’s what gets results. Xxx

  2. January 30
    Reply

    bravo!! it’s all about how it makes us feel to do what we do. and if we happen to connect and inspire along the way then that’s the bonus!!

  3. January 30
    Reply

    Lucy,

    I thought I was smart, but I soon found out I didn’t know what life is all about.

  4. I am always so excited when I see you have a new post up Brooke – I know it will inspire me, challenge me, entertain me and make my day just a bit brighter!!
    Criminals, strippers and Oprah may grab the headlines, but those aren’t the folks most people want to spend time with… they want to spend time with people who share their interests and their passions!!!

  5. January 30
    Reply

    I tell this to my writing students all the time. When writing it is your voice that has to be heard. Who was this speaker anyways?

  6. January 30
    Reply

    I am yet to attend a food blogger conference, but I have read a lot of advice about “strong content”, original content”, “useful information”, from the more experienced bloggers. Most of the time I cannot find myself in their description, because I have never been good in Marketing (even though I took a class at the University and received an “A”:)
    But I don’t write to sell anything, just to let the stories out of the cave they lived in my whole life. When people tell me they look forward to curling up on the couch and reading my new post, I don’t need math and business.
    I read your blog because you manage to reach out and touch the most tender parts of my heart. I cannot put the monetary value on the words I read in your posts which reverberated with me. But are you fascinating? Absolutely!

  7. January 30
    Reply

    Thank you!
    Though I do probably think I’m way more interesting than the rest of the world does. 😉

  8. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement! At the end of the day, I think people read blogs to connect: know they are not alone, find people with similar interests, and sometimes learn people who are braver, more daring, and adventurous than themselves. I hope to be brave enough to offer that to my readers!

  9. January 31
    Reply

    Great post. I can’t believe that the speaker would say something as negative, hurtful and discouraging as that!

    I’m glad that you could see the truth.

  10. This post is just what I needed to hear. Sometimes when I read the popular food blogging sites I realize how “lacking” mine is. I’m just learning how to photograph better. I don’t write fancy recipes. Surely I don’t have a huge audience.

    Instead I write about what is important to me: family dinners and why every family needs them. It took me a long time to realize that I what I write is important. I’m not trying to teach someone how to make a complicated dish that is beautiful. Rather I just want to create meals that bring mom & dad together with their kids all laughing around a dinner table…and that’s okay. Sometimes a basic pizza recipe is all anyone needs.

    • Food Woolf
      January 31
      Reply

      Stephanie, I’m glad this post connected with you! Keep telling your story.
      B

  11. January 31
    Reply

    Love this post. I have always been a process over product type of gal. Lets face it, not many get famous from blogging. It is more of a popularity contest and to me that isn’t very attractive. I appreciate this post because if a writer loses their voice all their writing is for the reader is mumblings.

  12. January 31
    Reply

    Brooke, awesome post! It was an inspiring way to start my Monday.

  13. Oh Brooke, such a powerful post that I really needed to read. I have been hitting some creative roadblocks lately & this post will help me get back on track. Wonderful! xo

  14. Susie Kauck
    January 31
    Reply

    Thankfully, I did not attend this conference. It’s intimidated enough trying to find my voice and I don’t want to be shut down, I want to be inspired. Thank you for the encouragement to push forward.

  15. January 31
    Reply

    This is like one of those deals where a mom tells her little heifer ” Of course you’re great at ballet, honey” Not all people are fascinating, Brooke. Not all corn muffin recipes need to be brought into the light. The world never needs another David Leibovitz. We have one. If he died, we could replace him with one of the other 75,000 blog-writing pastry chefs. but I would miss him, because he doesn’t torture me with monotone drivel and gluten-free horse puckey.
    Stop the coddling and sycophancy, please.
    (and to every one of you twitterers ready to snark because you kind of know you suck, go suck on something coated in smoked salt and pipe it)

    • Food Woolf
      January 31
      Reply

      Marisa
      It isn’t about the corn muffin. I’m talking about people exploring who they are as they make the corn muffin. Not everyone puts care and energy into their work, and the point is that they should. Thank you for your comment.

  16. January 31
    Reply

    thanks so much! food blogging is a mixture of excitement and frustration but anything that helps us work through all that is valuable.

  17. Johanna
    January 31
    Reply

    Truly, I thank you for this. You are right on, and I needed a reminder today. Take strength from knowing you are encouraging an honest world!

  18. January 31
    Reply

    I suspect that the speaker’s comment was meant to remind the food bloggers in the room that most of their traffic is likely coming from people looking for one thing: recipes (and the beautiful photos that go with them). Those visitors do not find us fascinating. If big traffic numbers are what we’re after, good recipes and beautiful photos will go much farther toward that goal than personal stories.

    However, the beautiful thing about the internet is the ability to find a very specific micro-audience. Some readers ARE looking for the person behind the plate. So I would interpret the speaker’s comment like this: If you want traffic, focus on the food. If you want to be a writer, find a way to make yourself fascinating. Brooke, I agree – finding your voice is hard. I struggle with it every day. But then again, I’m not in this for the traffic.

    • Food Woolf
      January 31
      Reply

      Thanks Erika!
      You’re right about that. If your business plan’s number one goal is traffic, telling a compelling and heartfelt story about your life probably isn’t going to rank very high. Not everyone wants a business model that has GIVE BACK built into it. This speaker does have that built into her business model, and that’s what makes her great. What I thought was important was to circle back and talk to a point I thought was missing for the people out there who are building a blog that gives back on an intellectual or artistic level.

  19. January 31
    Reply

    Great post Brooke, as always! It’s interesting, I didn’t take that comment as discouraging at all. I felt that she was talking about the hook, the way we get readers to actually read a post. To be sure we understand our niche and have each post fit into that niche so that people will know exactly your blog is the place to go for that niche. I think she was speaking from a business perspective, and there are a lot of blogs out there that are very inwardly focus without a thought of what kind of value they can bring to their readers. Then there are blogs where the concept of a post starts with an inward focus, but on the page they transform into an outward focus that inspires, entertains or meets a need. That’s what I took away from that remark, don’t stay focused on yourself, think about how you can connect with others and build community. You build community remarkably well and that’s a gift my dear!

    • Food Woolf
      January 31
      Reply

      Diana,
      Exactly. It’s all about perspective, right? She is right, it’s important not to get stuck on navel gazing, as it were, and give back with the work you do. No matter what, we should all be focused on GIVING BACK. If you can’t find a way to connect to your audience through your words and your story telling, then you should give back in other ways–linking, giveaways, etc.. All of that it is true. I’m all for encouraging the inner artist/business person for their innate talents and strengths!

  20. January 31
    Reply

    “Don’t believe the voices that tell you that what you do isn’t special. You are.”

    Thank you for that Brooke. We all need to hear that once in awhile.

    Let the negative haters out there burn themselves out. They will, which leaves more room in our world for kindness.

    love you to bits.
    Jo

  21. January 31
    Reply

    I am shocked how many of these blogging “classes” have similar themes. You are no body special and your only chance of even a little success is to bribe people into reading your blog with gifts.

    I don’t blog because I think I am special or to get noticed. I blog because I have something to say and I am sure someone out there will enjoy reading it. I don’t blog to become special I blog because I am special!

  22. January 31
    Reply

    This was a wonderful article. I really felt like I was there in the seminar with you. I especially liked how you pointed out the dichotomy that occurs so commonly in the creative field .. the right to have a voice/ the right to be fascinating in your own way vs. the monetary compensation/ you’re not interesting enough. I was inspired by this article without feeling like I was hit over the head with pedantics. It was really nice that you gave tips too. You showed the problem but also offered a solution.

    Thanks for this.

  23. […] My last Bite shared on her twitter account a blog post on Food Woolf that in my mind very much underscores the issue with taking blogging tips from other bloggers, yes […]

  24. January 31
    Reply

    Criminals, Strippers and Oprah fascinating? Spoken by someone who must clearly confuse asthma with passion.

    Many thanks for a most inspiring post.

  25. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Brooke. It’s the personal element that makes the difference between a “blog” and a “website”. It’s what I love most about my favorite blogs, the opportunity to get a window into the blogger’s point of view, not just their fabulous recipe. The highest compliment I occasionally receive from real-life friends who read my blog is that my blog sounds like me. I love to hear that!

  26. January 31
    Reply

    This is a really excellent post. Thank you for standing up for yourself and others. I know it made me feel better to read your words, and I am sure it made a lot of others feel better, too. Plus, you still gave great tips! You practiced what you preached. Well done!

  27. You are so grounded, honest and inspiring. Thank you for such a heart-warming post! xx

  28. January 31
    Reply

    Please don’t spam me for saying that “this is great content.” Because I mean it. I’ve been blogging for 15 months, and haven’t prioritized improving my writing skills. Which, I know I need to do. Like Erika above, it’s not for the traffic. I get very little, and I don’t advertise. But – I do want to do what I do better.

    Are there any publications you recommend to bloggers to help them find their voices?

    [K]

    • Food Woolf
      February 1
      Reply

      Kim
      I highly recommend Brenda Ueland’s (low-tech) book, “If You Want to Write”. It’s a life changer. It will definitely help you find your voice. The key: WRITE every day, write fast, write honestly, write how you think, and don’t edit yourself (when you’re journaling). Good luck! Have fun!
      Best,
      Brooke

  29. February 1
    Reply

    Wow…yes! A “commitment to inspiration”…
    And, a tree falling in the wilderness does still make a sound…now doesn’t it?

  30. February 1
    Reply

    This is such a useful post. I have been one of those conference attendees that walks out of the room dejected. I need to read this post again and again, anytime I feel I don’t deserve to have readers.
    Thank you for the encouragement and speaking truth.

  31. bigeater
    February 1
    Reply

    You and the famous blogger are saying the same thing but in different ways. No one (not even Oprah) is inherently fascinating, you have to earn it. Your exercises are excellent pathways to becoming fascinating, however.
    It’s a hard lesson that all new writers have to learn and until they do, their writing lacks evidence of the spark and passion they feel inside.
    One poster asked for a book that would make her a better blogger—there’s no substitute for The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. The rules seem simple and arbitrary, but follow them and you’ll find the shortest route from your brain to your reader’s heart.
    The lesson is, as always, nothing that’s worthwhile is easy.

  32. February 1
    Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…. very encouraging words.

  33. Your point is so much bigger than blogging, too. Becoming, knowing and being our authentic selves and trusting that it’s enough and deeming it good – is a life long exercise, I think. Writing that way, is a good start.

    • Food Woolf
      February 1
      Reply

      Cathy,
      YES! YES! YES! That’s it exactly! You’re so good!
      Amen!
      B

  34. February 1
    Reply

    Brooke,
    Thank you for this. It helps me to continue to focus on my own point of view, provide value to readers, and to follow my passion (which is I think what she might have meant). Well written posts will always find an audience I think… I left the conference having a much clearer idea of what I want to do, who I want to serve, and how those things fit together. When I was 20 I didn’t really think I had anything worthwhile to say. At 49 I know I do. Today I read about The Edible Conference, which just concluded. Those two women didn’t set out to start an empire of 270 magazines focused on locally grown food. They were inspired (by two other authors) to start one little magazine in their home town of Ojai. Then they followed their passion and worked hard.

  35. February 1
    Reply

    want to believe this…but have you seen the sheer QUANTITY of horrible food blogs? or even horrible blogs in general? Horrible meaning: boring, trite, poorly written, ugly, etc.
    “Everyone is original? Everyone does have a talent? Yes.” Maybe everyone has a talent. But I’d wager the majority of people never line up their career with that talent, and maybe a slightly larger number line their hobbies up with it.
    I appreciate the feeling of encouragement, though. Some good points.

    • Food Woolf
      February 1
      Reply

      Marti,
      I can’t disagree with you. There is a wasteland of bad blogging going on out there. But I think it’s because it’s done without heart/art/and real honest work. I’m hoping that people start to see that their blogs are actually a reflection of who they are. Yes, I’m an idealist, but if people took the time to do everything in their life with care, the world could be a much better/more fulfilling place. Thanks for your words!

  36. February 1
    Reply

    Bravo! This is such an important point that so often gets overlooked, especially by young writers. We must celebrate the ordinary, because that’s what so much of life is all about. I just came across your blog for the first time today. I look forward to coming back again for more thoughtful pieces. Thank you!

    Lis

  37. February 1
    Reply

    Thanks for reminding all of us that what we write matters to someone, somewhere. There are days that I question how interesting my posts are to others. But you are right, writing does express our individuality. I think most loyal readers respect each of us for just that reason.

  38. February 2
    Reply

    I got angry just reading that… who has the right to tell anyone they aren’t interesting? Oh my…
    I hope everyone reads your post and does your exercises!

  39. […] stumbled across this blog on Twitter.  I’m glad I did.  The post is titled “Are you Fascinating“.   The author touches upon the importance of our contributions as bloggers, and the […]

  40. Wow, I am glad I was not in the room when that presentation happened. It is hard to be one of so so many other food bloggers out there sometimes. We can’t help but compare ourselves. But that is when I force myself to remember why I started my blog: for me, for fun. And we are all unique and fascinating. I am most humbled when people tell me I have a real style to my blog, that they can tell I wrote it.

  41. Pepper
    February 2
    Reply

    But as a writer, even as a famous writer with bylines in Food + Wine, 2500 people on your fan page and a two-book deal with Knopf, you’re not interesting. You’re not special. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Nobody is obligated to read what you write, nobody cares if you write, and indeed very few people will notice that you have written. You exist only as a conduit between your subject and the reader, and the less of you that happens to leak onto the screen, the better you are likely to be. Writing isn’t therapy, it’s freaking hard work, ditch-digging hard, and if you’re waiting for somebody to pat you on the shoulder, say “Great job, camper,” and hand you a glass of Sunny D, dawn is going to be a long time coming.

  42. February 2
    Reply

    THANK YOU IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY!!! Sometimes as a blogger, it’s normal to get down, but it’s words like these that are great and inspirational and necessary.

  43. February 3
    Reply

    I started my blog as basically a journal of our cooking experiments, travels, food adventures, etc. Although I am thrilled when I have twenty hits a day or the stray comment, I still write for me.

    All foodie bloggers—write for yourself and the love of food! I understand that “serious” writing can be excruciating, so I will just continue to enjoy working on my blog, getting excited when I get hits, yet secretly hoping for that book deal with movie options! (Then, maybe I will get serious about it!)

    • Food Woolf
      February 3
      Reply

      Eliot,
      Seneca said, “If not now, when?” You may be writing first and foremost for yourself, but why not give yourself the best gift possible? Thoughtful, fascinating writing is important–regardless of how big your audience is.
      Good luck, Brooke

  44. February 3
    Reply

    Kristen,
    Please don’t get angry. I truly don’t feel that it was the speakers intention to insult anyone in the room by that ” you’re not interesting” quote. It’s being taken out of context and unfairly upsetting everyone.
    I felt it was meant as a funny way to emphasize and inspire everyone to find their voice, through a funny approach.
    I was present, listening from the back of the room and felt quite differently about the tone, outcome and overall response from the attendees. Quite the opposite, actually, much more on the positive end.

  45. sally
    February 4
    Reply

    Brooke, thanks for posting this and for your thoughts. I remember the moment too. I believe you are right – we all have our insights, viewpoints and something unique to contribute! If we didn’t think so and hope so, it would be tough to keep blogging, sharing and growing. I think the person speaking was trying to be funny but for a group of fairly new and newbie bloggers it may have come across tough. When things hit us wrong or make us wince, we sometimes need to take into consideration the external style of the person commenting and also think about their “insides” and intent. Thanks again.

  46. February 5
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing such a meaningful post with us…..I totally agree with you. What we do does have some meaning and although somedays we may not be as interesting as we would like to be, we can certainly still be entertaining.
    Anyway, thanks for posting on this subject!
    Cheers
    Dennis

  47. While I doubt the speaker’s intent was to be hurtful or discouraging, the fact is it can be a detrimental comment no matter what tone it is spoken in. No one likes feeling like they’re a nobody or that what they have to say is useless jabber. We all want to feel as though we matter somehow in this world, even if only to a small group of people. What disturbs me most is that this came from an established and respected food blogger. I’d lose a lot of respect on the spot for such a comment.

    I’m still fumbling my way around the blog world and tried to do food blogging only to find it wasn’t for me. I write about my life, my relationships with people, my experiences and adventures. I aim for honesty and even expose my vulnerabilities. It’s people with blogs who are similar that I am drawn to.

    I want refreshing, honest, and inspiring posts that remind me of the beauty of life from a daily perspective no matter how mundane. I don’t want just another generic blog with a recipe, a how-to guide, money saving methods, etc. I want to know who is behind that blog, even if only a little bit. Blogs that don’t allow you to see something about the writer are hollow, bland, and leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    For good or bad, we as bloggers should be here to inspire and uplift one another regardless of what kind of blog we write. Discouraging others and making them feel like dirt (even if they did not mean to) because to said well-respected blogger no one is fascinating or interesting is just rude and doesn’t help the newbie blogger move forward.

    Thank you for such a wonderful and inspiring post. I’m glad to read someone out there strives to encourage, not discourage.

  48. I can understand where the presenter was coming from, though I do not agree with the sentiment. For a while there was a seeming amount of success from the formula she described, that cohesive amount of information exchange. I don’t think we should lose fact of the site that we need to all support each others endeavours, share our food with the world.

    As for voice? We are unique – unless you are post-modern and understand that it has been said before but the point is the manipulation of the words to take back as our own. Ahem – wow. Sorry. I think if we view her argument as satire; if you are writing for the elusive fame and to cash a fat paycheque at the end of it all then go ahead. Follow this formula but you will no longer be authentic.

    But, if you are here to write about food because you truly do love it, you love the flow of words as they come out of your fingerprints and onto paper or the screen; then you keep going. Learn from your own cooking/baking/writing mistakes and keep doing it. I’ve been writing for a long time and I somehow stumbled into my niche. I’m still at the point where I can recognize every follower, reader and interact with them because I still know them. Each new person that comes to the blog, I notice and feel a sense of pride that they want to take part in what I am doing.

    I don’t want to lose sight of the importances of each person and I think if I stopped being my weird little self and started chasing after whatever measure of success money is, then I won’t be authentic. I’ll lose my self.

    Wonderful post, engaging and so thought provoking. Thank you.

  49. […] this fantastic post got me thinking about this blog. I am incredibly new to blogging (literally; I started 3 days ago), […]

  50. Wow, thank you for writing such a great post. I really needed to read it. I am not an LA girl living on a ranch, or a single girl living in a tiny apartment in Paris—both of which are probably more exciting than my life.

    I am a New England girl with three kids, newly divorced, living in a basement apartment outside of Salt Lake. And sometimes I have trouble letting myself shine through in my writing. Thank you for the advice. I will reread this again whenever I need a reminder.

    :)

  51. […] built like ours. We get frustrated. We might even get petty. And sometimes, we can even take other people’s words and acts personally because they don’t share our point of […]

  52. February 16
    Reply

    Thank you. There are so many days when my mind fills with just the beginning of stories, just the start of a post and I can’t seem to see past that opening. Clearing my mind and reading encouraging posts like this really makes it feel like an open new project.

    • Food Woolf
      February 17
      Reply

      Anneke,
      Glad I could help! I hope you keep finding lots of great inspiration to keep up the good writing.
      Best,
      Brooke

  53. February 23
    Reply

    I like this exercise! Lovely idea. Thanks!

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