The Diary of Anne Frank is a perfect example of the kinds of information anyone who wants to leave a meaningful legacy should consider. Annn's diary is a poignant story without a shred of marketing or effort to impress the reader. .
Anne wrote, "It seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the cattering of a 13-year-old." She looked at her diary as her "one true friend"…a source of comfort and support.
What is it about Ann Frank's "chattering" that draws readers and places it among the classics? What can writers learn from a 13-year-old?
No marketing here
Ok, so business writing does demand a certain amount of sales copy. And it is true that a huge proportion of the stuff we read on the internet now is designed to promote someone or something. But that's a highly specialized type of writing. And, much as this kind of writing has a real purpose, it rarely is the kind of writing that has a lasting effect on anyone. The shelf-life of such writing is very short indeed. Ann, on the other hand, wasn't writing to convince anyone of anything and yet it lives on long after the words were set to paper. She was just writing about what she saw and experienced and felt…
The Unvarnished Truth
Ann's diary is clearly written from the heart. She didn't try to paint herself as an expert or as a saint. She let it all hang out. She wrote about her world as she saw it…the sublime and the ugly.
No formulas here.
To be sure, there are times that we do need to follow formulas…times when we need to hone our work into a predefined format. But great writing transcends formulas. Too many writers work very hard to write like everybody else. Imitation is the finest form of flattery, they reason. But, truth be known, this approach to writing leads to very dreary writing indeed. Once a reader discovers that there's really very little new in an article or book, they're off in search of something more.
Seniors, particularly, can learn from Ann. She talked about her experiences from the point of view of a 13-year-old. Unhampered by formulas and lofty expectations of greatness, she left a legacy that will continue to touch the hearts of many for years to come. Every Senior alive has accumulated a wealth of experiences and observations. Each has lived a reality that is at once unique and universal. Putting those experiences and observations on paper is an exceptionally good exercise in re-affirming and validating one's life. The process can help put everything into perspective and serve as a bond with reality. The sheer joy of putting thoughts on paper – whether anyone will ever read those thoughts not – is powerful. In the writing, Seniors, who often feel out of touch and unimportant, discover a valuable outlet.
Couple a Senior's words with the collection of photos and memorabilia accumulated through the years and you have a legacy guaranteed to keep on giving.
So, if you're a Senior looking for a way to make a difference….
If you're a writer, looking for a way to put magic into your writing…
Take a hint from Ann Frank. Write what you experience and what you feel. Stop worrying about writing to sell or convince anyone. Forget trying to copy or to outshine everyone else. Write the truth as you see it. Write for the pure pleasure of writing. Don't worry if it fits any predefined formula.
Write for the sheer pleasure of putting your thoughts on paper… You never know whom you'll inspire in the process.