Be it, or say it. Choose one.
It's the difference between posturing and participating. I can't tell you how many times I've used this advice in my work. There's never a situation where it doesn't apply to a writing assignment.
Are you going to be it? Or say it?
Are you going to be a cool, or say you're cool? Are you actually building on a core value, or claiming a new benefit/personality trait? Are you being, or seeming to be? (We could apply this line of thinking to our own personal lives, but that's another blog post.)
I'm serious when I say this be it/say it exercise applies to any writing assignment. Take a look at an ad in any magazine and you'll find they are either being it, or saying it. Now, decide which ones are more effective. How about the magazine itself? Is it saying it supports women? Or does it make them feel inadequate enough to buy $75 face cream?
I've spent the majority of my career helping others get to the truth.
Several years ago, I became frustrated enough with the lack of focused, meaningful direction in the creative process to initiate something I called a brand truth process. The name itself explains the goal: truth. The process actually went something like: research, strategy, truth, create, but the real goal was to be, rather than to say.
The goal of be it/say it is to be authentic. And being authentic means not faking it. And faking it means protraying an image of yourself that isn't real. Which seems like the definition of most advertising. So, following in my friend Chris Grams' (author of The Ad-Free Brand) line of thinking, engaging in this type of branding process might mean doing something other than advertising.
Be a part of your local community. Be an advocate for a cause. Be an ethical business owner. Be an inspirational hero. Then say it. See where it takes you.
I know I've said a lot of things. But I've only been a few.