What is the hardest thing for you to write about? If you’re like many of us, writing about yourself feels awkward, too personal, or just plain frustrating. And unfortunately, if that’s how you feel when you’re writing, that can come through to your readers.
So how can you make it easier when you need to write a bio?
What’s the hangup?
It helps to know why writing about yourself is so difficult. After all, you are the topic you should know best!
As it turns out, though, your closeness to the topic is actually part of why so many people have trouble writing about themselves. You know all the little details about yourself that are important to you and the people who love you. That can make it tricky to paint the big picture, and to sift out the ideas that are truly relevant to a specific audience.
Another major difficulty most people encounter when writing about themselves is a cultural disapproval toward “tooting your own horn.” When you try to write about your accomplishments, you can start to feel very awkward. (You might even hear your mother in your head, telling you, “Don’t brag, it’s rude!”) This is especially true for women in many cultures, and why bios (and resumés) can be such a challenge.
Making it easier
So what can you do to make it easier to write about yourself?
First, think about the purpose of your bio, and use that to guide what you include. If you work for a construction company and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, you could probably use almost the same bio for both. If you manage a pet store and volunteer for Dress for Success, your bio for each of those organizations would probably focus on different details about you.
To get past the “can’t see the forest for the trees” issue, try looking at yourself from someone else’s perspective. (This is a secret advantage of professional writers – we already have the fresh outside perspective.) Think about what you would want to know if you were a potential client, website visitor, etc.
Taking an outside perspective also helps deal with feeling like you are bragging. Think about what a supportive boss, significant other, loyal client, or best friend would say about your accomplishments – or even ask them if they could write a short list of things you should include.
In fact, if I could only give one piece of advice on writing about yourself, it would be to get outside feedback. A friend’s perspective or an editor’s tweaks can make a rough draft into a smooth piece, ready to wow your clients or make your mama proud. (I bet she won’t even call you out on bragging about yourself.)
Genet Jones has been writing for fun since 1989 and for profit since 2005. She also enjoys editing (yes, really), yoga, hiking, and exploring Northwest Arkansas. Find out more about Genet’s business at thoughtfulwordsmith.com.