Writing about yourself can be tricky. I know I can struggle with it, and so do many others. A friend of mine was recently faced with the challenge of putting what she does to words and reached out with the following question:
“Do you have any insights that might help me express me and my heart’s desire, which includes the common good?”
I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts here.
First off, let’s all agree it’s hard to write about ourselves. It’s tricky to find the words. It can feel vulnerable and awkward. It can be hard to know where to start.
Projects like these often bring up our doubts, perfectionism, whatever it might be because we have to concertize ourselves through writing. The pressure turns on. Quickly.
So let’s start with simple exercises to get the words out on paper. Each of these suggestions (I actually like the word invitations better) are designed to connect us to our hearts and start to get them on paper. Pick one or a few of the following and see what come out. From here, you can tailor and refine your thoughts to fit the specific topic you’re working on.
5 Ways to Get the Creative Juices Flowing when You have to Write About Yourself
1. Start with Facts
Firstly, agree to start with a messy draft. A good place to begin is to keep it simple and factual.
What do you do? How do you serve? What’s your background that led you to, or qualified you for, this work?
You can then make these bullets into fuller sentences and round them out with the why behind your work.
2. What’s the Story Behind Your Work?
I was with my mom the other day. She was sharing with me a cookbook she’s smitten with. It’s a beautiful book. Stunning photos and recipes that look seriously amazing. Although all this is true, what my mom lead with was not the images or recipes but why the author started baking in the first place–to heal her grief and to find herself again. Looking through the book you immediately feel more connected to her because of this. The recipes took on more meaning. You could feel her heart on the page.
When we have to write about ourselves, instead of leading with accomplishments, qualifications, or the work itself, share the story behind it. How did you get to where you are today? What’s the story that got you started? What keeps you moving when things get hard? How did the work find you and how did it affect you when it did?
3. Brainstorm What’s on Your Heart
Take time to really explore what’s on your heart in the context of your work. Write whatever comes up. First thought, best thought. The words don’t have to be perfect here, or this doesn’t have to end up being a draft (although it could be). Let off some of the pressure by starting with a brainstorm and connecting inward with what wants to come forward. Explore what’s exciting you right now. What do you feel is your truth? How can you serve in bigger and more aligned ways? Get this out in the open.
4. Set an Intention
What is the intention of the piece? What is it supposed to convey to the reader? How do you want the reader to experience you? Cheery, serious, confident? It could be a mix of a few things, and that’s okay. Just get clear on this.
Overall writing about ourselves can go in so many different directions. This makes it important to set a clear intention before you get going. Ask yourself, what do you want them to know or feel? A great resource for this is Alex Franzen’s exercise — Feel. Know. Do.
This is always a nice thing to start with as it will guide the rest of your work.
5. Connect to the Common GoodAll good movies, books, blog posts, anything really that connects with an audience, are given meaning when we pull the lens back and explore what's universal.Click To Tweet
What feeling or human experience does your work give us perspective on? What can we learn? What do you want people to take away? What’s the worldview your work takes on?
This is where the story exercise can become extra powerful. Stories create meaning. The best ones connect us to something bigger about ourselves.
Put it Together
Go through the above writing exercises and start to tease out words, phrases, paragraphs that resonate and feel in alignment. Start to piece these together. Massage the rough edges. The most challenging part about writing about ourselves is getting started. Use these exercises to get ideas flowing. Find examples of what you’re working on to help conceptualize the structure of the piece.
Know that your story will always be evolving. Start somewhere, know things can always shift and grow as you do.
Do you have a writing or entrepreneurship question? I’m excited hear it and respond in a post. Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I look forward to connecting!
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