This post is part of a 7-article series on the fears of writing. You can find all other articles here:
Several months ago, I wrote about courage in writing. One of our writers revealed a painful moment of past in an article. She didn’t do this for sympathy; she did it because her history and experience was relevant to the topic. She believed it might serve to help other people looking for answers.As writers, we often draw upon personal experience when putting words to paper. It adds depth to our work, creating a bond with readers.
Revealing yourself might also work against you, though, particularly if you write an exposé that pisses off friends and family because you reveal too much. Always remember that while your life experience is your own, your history involves other people’s lives as well. Take their feelings into consideration.
I digress. Unless you’re writing a biography about yourself, I wouldn’t worry about the fear of revealing too much. People see what they want, and many times, what they take from your work is often unrelated to them.
It’s like a daily horoscope that deals in generalities. I used to be a professional tarot reader years ago. I heard other readers spew out mystical questions like, “I see a J in your future… Do you know someone whose name begins with J?”
If you think hard enough, I’m sure you know – maybe even just vaguely – at least one person with a name that starts with J. The good readers, the ones who truly have a gift, pinpoint specifics.
In the book Your Writing Coach, Jurgen Wolff says that people know themselves very little. He believes that the people who read your work of characters or events will always see themselves in what was written – even if the character or event is not based on them.
Why do you think movies have disclaimers that read, “Any characters portrayed in this film bearing a resemblance to individuals living or dead is purely coincidental”?
…Because someone, somewhere, is going to say, “Hey! That guy is just like me! HEY! Maybe it IS me!”
Nothing is different in blogs – and yet everything is different. There is no buffer between you and your audience. There is no one to say, “This isn’t about you. This is about me.” You have to keep in mind that your mother or your boss or your lover may stumble on your blog and read what you wrote.
The amount of information you reveal is totally up to your own personal comfort level. Only you can decide what you want to give to the world and what you want to keep to yourself.
My advice? Don’t be afraid of revealing too much; just reveal information sparingly and with care.