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tell the truth

how to write better: tell the truth

(1 min read.) If you lie to people, writing will make you feel lonely. Best case scenario with writing is that people listen to you. If they’re listening to you and you lie to them instead of telling the truth, you’ll start to feel and act like a fraud and you’ll become very unhappy.

Tell the truth does not mean tell your life story or sell your trauma, though you can if you want to. The truth can be a metaphor, a texture or a feeling, or the fact that your short story makes no sense because you feel like the world doesn’t either. Risk being confusing instead of being fake.

Tell the truth about what you see, what you wish you saw, what you actually hate and genuinely love, and what you feel like is really going on.

You can tell the truth about your family or tell the truth about what you feel like an interstellar alien would order at a fast food drive through.

I mostly write fiction, but that’s because the truth is easier and more fun for me to understand and share when I exaggerate it into huge metaphors. I like metaphors because when we enter fiction, we can take our armor off. We admit that we don’t know the rules of what’s going to happen and we let the metaphors shake us out of our fixed assumptions so we can see things fresh. Fantasies can contain the deepest truths in the world.

“What is truth?,” says me at 19 after reading Nietzsche once. Look, maybe there is no objective truth. I don’t care; one human to another, I know you know exactly what I mean by “When you write, try not to lie.”

Yes, our minds change and we learn things constantly and and truth is not always stable. The truth can change and maybe what you feel is true today will not feel true tomorrow. Don’t worry if it will be true forever; just try to tell the truth of the moment you are writing in. Telling the truth makes for more powerful writing and is good exercise for being alive.

See more of my best writing tips.

xo, megan

Thanks for giving this a few minutes. I hope it felt supportive.


Writing coach Megan Cohen is a white cis woman with soft femme hair. She wears black but stands in front of a wall covered in brightly colored brainstorming post-it notes. She smiles with closed lips and warm eyes. Her skin is amazing even though she's middle-aged.

I’m a f*ckin’ friendly writing coach.

Let’s see what an hour with me can do for you. Get treated with honesty and respect. Bring your work-in-progress, your goals, or your frustrated blank page. Sliding scale; no ongoing commitment; just an hour to work on your writing. See me in a private zoom to put my 20 years of experience on your side.

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