"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Writing in the first person

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

My first foray into blogging was in 2013, while spending a delirious two months living in Paris (which ended up being our honeymoon, though it wasn't originally planned to be). The blog was my way of keeping a written record of the whole delightful adventure, not only for myself but also for family and friends back home to read and follow along. That blog is still there and you can read it here if you so desire.

Every now and then I'll take a nostalgic look at my Paris blog, and I still get a lot of enjoyment out of reading the almost-daily accounts of our time there. One of my friends showed her hairdresser, who then recommended my blog to any of her customers who were planning a holiday to Paris!!

That blog was all about me (and us) and was written completely in the first person.

When I started this new blog I sometimes found myself falling into a habit of writing in the third person - talking about some phantom other person (or people), using the pronouns "we", or "you" instead of "I". I read one of my really early drafts to my husband for his feedback, and he said (in the kindest possible way) something along the lines of "It sounds a bit too pop-culture-y. Write about you!!"

Okay then.

I thought about that for a while, and I realised a few things.

This is MY blog
I choose to write about my life, my thoughts and views, my perspective, my values, my worldview, my experiences, the things I've learned, the things I struggle with.

I'm not writing about your life, or our experiences (unless it's my family), or some random other person's situation or views (unless I'm commenting on it from my own perspective). For me, being authentic means telling it like it is, for my life. I'm not interested in dictating to others how they should live their lives, or prescribing some strategy that I think everyone should adopt.

My husband was right when he said I needed to write in the first person.

I don't want to distance myself
What fits for me, what works for me, what is true in my life, is just that. It's about my life. I can't (and don't want to) assume it's also about yours. I may be a midlife wife, mother, friend, daughter, stepdaughter, stepmother, divorcee, and so might you. But our circumstances and our issues can (and likely will) still be different. While there are plenty of issues that are common to all humanity, I don't want to presume. If you can relate to what I'm talking about then that's great, but I don't ever want to assume that you will.

If I'm sharing a struggle that I have, a situation that's true in my life, I don't want to assume that you also share my struggle (even though it's entirely possible that you do). But even if you do, your struggle won't be exactly the same as mine. It's my struggle, and in order not to distance myself from it, or try to make myself look better, it helps for me to write in the first person so that you know I'm talking about me. Just me. And my struggle. Just mine. And not you. And your struggle (or lack of).

It's not my job to change anyone
I'm not interested in being some wanna-be guru on faith, or divorce, or stepfamily life, or midlife, or health, or whatever other issue. If what I write, about me, resonates with you, then well and good. But if it doesn't, I hope you will allow me my views, my beliefs, my struggles and my experiences, as I will allow you yours. And I will always appreciate your willingness to share your experiences in this public forum.

I hope you will forgive me if I don't necessarily agree with your views or your beliefs. And when I don't, then I probably won't comment, and I may not even read to the end of your post. I happily accept that you have exactly the same freedom.

Prescriptions are for doctors
It's dawned on me over the past few months, that the posts I most enjoy reading on the blogs of other writers, are those written in the first person too. I love to read about the experiences of others, and it often prompts me to take a step back and consider what's been written and how it may apply in my own life.

But I also realised that when I read something that's written from an "all-encompassing" prescriptive voice - "we must........" or "we need to........." or "we all......." - well those posts just turn me right off. (That probably says far more about me than about the person who's writing, but there you have it.)

No, I love reading blogs where the author writes about their own issues and victories (and failures) and what has worked (or not) for them. I can then decide whether this is something I'd like to explore for myself, whatever it may be. Or not.

In the same vein, I don't want to be prescriptive for anyone else. I'm no expert, on anything (not even myself, really). I can't (and don't want to) speak for others, so I try not to include any "we" or "you" or other distancing, all-encompassing language in my posts. That's very deliberate.

Finding a blogging niche
Having said all that, I hope you'll read! I'm still finding my blogging niche. I love to write about my experiences, what I'm learning, what I'm struggling with, and how God is shaping me and growing me through all of it.

And I hope that if it strikes a chord for you then you will take it and consider it and apply it to your own circumstances. And if not, then I hope you will respectfully allow me my post, and move on to the next one!!

6 comments

  1. Hi Sue - I always enjoy reading your blog and you're absolutely right about it being about "You". I struggle with that at times because I'm scared to sound too much like I think I know it all or whatever. But a while ago I came to realize that my blog was MY voice - nobody else's - it was my way of putting my thoughts together and interacting with other women who are walking a similar path to me.
    I love that we cheer each other on and that sometimes something resonates strongly and it's been instrumental in thriving through my 50's rather than assuming I was a middle-aged woman with nothing to contribute.
    Like you, I don't expect to be anyone special in the enormous world of blogging, but I love my little corner and I'm happy there and I love it when I have visitors :)

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    1. Leanne you are most definitely NOT a middle-aged woman with nothing to contribute!! God has gifted you in unique and amazing ways, and I'm thankful that you are so willing to share all of that in your blog. I hope that we do get to meet in person one day!!!
      I think the thing that I struggle with most in blogging is not wanting to sound like I'm totally messed up when I write about my struggles and my sinful responses, and at the same time wanting to effectively convey the victory over sin that's possible in Jesus!! At the end of the day, though, I hope not to let my fears get in the way of writing about what's important. And so I blog on............ xx

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  2. Wonderfully said! I think all too often we try to copy others when we just need to be ourselves! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

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    1. Thanks Roseann, while it's true that other blogs can inspire me to write about particular topics, I can only ever write from my own perspective, and I try to remind myself of that often.
      Thanks for your kind comment xx

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  3. Hi, Sue! I can just certainly agree with you, nothing should make an impact on you, way you write or topics you want to think about, even this is inside you. Anyway, it does not matter when, but your true readers will come.

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    1. Hi Igor, thanks for visiting and for your thoughtful comment. I'm always happy to consider someone else's point of view, or think further about something that they have found helpful in their own life. I hope that what I write about will be interesting for others too, but if not that's completely okay!! Like you say, there is an audience out there for all of us :)
      Have a great day!!

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