Writing about yourself is one of the many challenges writers face in their career. Maybe it’s because we’re too involved, too close and need to distance ourselves. It’s easy to research a topic like e-commerce, but how do you research yourself, dig deep into who you are?
I recently worked with an author on her website. She is an exceptional writer, but struggles when writing about herself. I wrote her about section on her website because I was looking in from the outside. She needed fresh eyes, a new perspective, and a consistent voice. Her new biography is now consistent with the rest of her writing/website and portrays the correct person. Success!
Previously, I worked on an About section in my portfolio so viewers have a chance to “get-to-know-me.” This section took months of rewrites, edits, and advice from other content strategists. Since the About section is one of the first pages in my portfolio, I had to impress my viewer so they kept reading my portfolio. I learned how to sound passionate and enthusiastic while still being myself.
I ran into this same issue when I applied for the Facebook Content Strategy Fellowship. I’m confident in my portfolio and writing skills; however, Facebook wasn’t going to look at my portfolio first; they were going to see my written answers to their questions. I needed to impress the team initially so they were compelled to view my portfolio and website.
When I began writing my responses, everything I turned out was dry and lacked both personality and enthusiasm. This wasn’t what I wanted to say nor did it reflect my quirky, passionate self.
Then my husband began asking me what I wanted to say in the application. So, I told him. I talked about everything I wanted Facebook to know about me and how that related to my experiences in content strategy. I brain-dumped, verbally. I didn’t worry about how it sounded; if it was the correct thing to say, I just needed to get it out. Once I had my thoughts out of my head, I was able to sit down and refine everything. I moved words and sentences around, structuring and organizing my responses (content strategy right here, huh?!).
Another trick I found was to write down the voice and tone I wanted to convey at the top of my page. If nothing in that writing fit the guidelines at the top of the page, I needed to either rework it, or remove it altogether. This improved consistency throughout my responses and focused in on what I was really trying to communicate, keeping in mind, the voice and tone doesn’t have to be a full style guide like MailChimp’s.
Having a new process in writing about myself also helps my writing in general. I can apply these same techniques to blogs and client work: Define voice and tone; brain-dump; refine, structure, organize.
How have you struggled when writing about yourself? Do you have any specific techniques you use?