in Musings

Writing Should Be Personal

For a long time, I’ve struggled to write anything too personal because I was afraid of the consequences of doing so. What if someone I know reads this? What if my boss finds out? I avoided publishing any of these posts, or when I did, I distorted them in a way that reflected positively on me.

But how can writing be good without a personal element? Writing is the process of turning the inner thoughts in your unconscious mind into concrete, coherent words on paper. Good writing should therefore be one of the most personal things you do.

They say that everyone has a unique voice and ought to be sharing their story. I believe this, and also believe everyone has something interesting to say.

The problem is most people are afraid to share the inner workings of themselves to the public. We’re so used to hiding behind the facade we put out to the world that we’ve lost the ability to be ourselves, even on our own blogs. We fear the judging eyes of others as we lay ourselves bare on paper. Coming to terms with this fear, however, may be a necessity.

In the fabulous book If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland encourages writers not shy away from using “I” in their writing.

Now to have things alive and interesting it must be personal, it must come from the “I”: what I know and feel. For that is the only great and interesting thing. That is the only truth you know, that nobody else does.

The most interesting kind of articles to read are those that show vulnerability. I look to James Altucher for advice here. He says he never publishes a post unless he feels scared to do so. Sometimes he’s even afraid he’s shared too much to the world. He tries to bleed every time he writes by sharing the darkest and worst moments he’s experienced.

Ultimately, this is how people relate to you through your writing. Everyone has gone through their own struggles, and everyone is simply trying their best to be happy. The feelings that make us human are universal. Conveying these feelings in your writing is how you get people to care.

You can learn a lot about someone through their writing, perhaps more than you ever could through conversation alone. I’ve been able to learn more about some of my friends through their blogs, and it’s strengthened our relationship. I’ve even met people solely through reading their blogs because I knew we operated on the same wavelength. This was only possible because they put themselves out there.

At the end of the day, good writing has to be a reflection of your inner self. Good writing can’t be faked. Beneath any words you read is the personality of the writer himself. Whatever that personality is will eventually shine through. Even if the words themselves tell one story, you can tell if the writer’s true self does not coincide with their message. You can deceive people vocally and even in-person, but you simply cannot deceive people for long through extensive writing.