I have trouble opening up about myself online because I’m afraid of being judged.
There. I said it. How’s that for honesty?
But seriously. Every tweet I tweet that’s not a link to a helpful marketing post or one of my social media tutorials comes with some serious anxiety. Will this tweet make people laugh with me… or at me? Will my [insert authority figure] think I’m tweeting about them? Will [insert colleague] think I’m being passive aggressive? Will [insert family/friend] think I’m weird for saying that? Does anyone care?
I’m the same way with blogging. Check out the title of this post. Even something personal about ME has the guise of one of my usual how-to posts. And that post where I announced I got a literary agent? Yep, written like a how-to tutorial. That blog post definitely should have included this:
But it didn’t. It was all like “Hey, I got a literary agent, but here are all the steps you can take to get a literary agent, too.”
Which isn’t a bad thing. I like teaching people things. There’s something gratifying about helping other people achieve their goals. My whole social media blog is about teaching people how to stand out online, so it’s what I’m used to.
But it wouldn’t hurt to include a little bit of this:
Because really, which are the blogs you accidentally spend an hour perusing? Which are the debut writers you stalk until their book is finally available for pre-order?
They’re the ones you have an emotional connection with. The ones you can relate to, and want to root for. The ones who make you eager to scroll back through the archives to see what brought them to this moment. The ones who can clearly tell an entertaining story.
YA author John Green (The Fault In Our Stars) is a STELLAR example of this. He blogs (and video blogs) a ton, and lets his personality shine through. He talks about his personal experiences and opinions from the heart, and gained a loyal following because of it.
But nobody has an emotional connection with a tutorial.
Best of all, this process may actually help my writing overall. I usually write first-person fiction, and the hardest part for me is writing the internal dialogue of the main character and exposing their emotions. Fortunately, I also mainly write thrillers, which is more focused on the action. Still, my work could be even stronger if I master writing about the personal stuff.
So now that I’ve established that my blog and/or internet presence needs more personality…
Sorry, sorry. Freakout over. Anyway, here’s what I’m going to
try to do:
1. Stop caring what other people think. Most of the time, other people aren’t paying much attention, anyway. It’s time to stop being so self-conscious about everything. Besides, it’s utterly exhausting.
2. Don’t take negativity so personally. I’ve already had some practice here — my marketing emails (both for work and my own blog) get seen by thousands of people. When you get to a certain audience size, not everyone’s going to like you. Haters gonna hate. If/when my novel gets published, there will eventually be that first one-star review. I won’t need to just survive it. I’ll need to take it with dignity. Time to start practicing.
3. Get comfortable expressing my opinions. I have them. Not everyone will agree with my opinions, and that’s ok. Until now, I haven’t really put many of my opinions out there. Tutorials don’t exactly need to be peppered with opinions. But without opinions, a person would be entirely uninteresting.
4. Be silly. I am INSANELY silly. But only my husband, my parents, and a few of my best friends (especially the ones from high school) know this. My colleagues might suspect it — I let out the occasional squeak in meetings when I get excited about an idea. It’s great to be silly — I don’t know why I hide this.
5. Put something personal/opinionated out there at least once per day. Out there being the great interwebs. I watched a talk today from one of my colleagues, Beth Dunn (that she gave it back in August 2013). She says in order to be great at writing, you have to write every single day, even if you write crappy every day. And this applies to anything — running, etc. I’m going to go ahead and believe her, and try it out.
6. Stop trying to be perfect. Nobody’s putting pressure on me to be perfect except myself. It’s OK if a typo slips out there. It’s NOT OK to have a mild panic attack every time one does. Oh look its a typo. Its. Its. Bwahaha.
So how do you put yourself out there online? How do you let your personality shine? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Share this! Here are some ready-made tweets:
Click to tweet: Let’s get personal. Author @DianaUrban talks about the value of letting your personality shine through online. http://bit.ly/1jQ9LtZ
Click to tweet: Do you think new authors should talk about personal stuff on their blogs/social media? Check out this take – http://bit.ly/1jQ9LtZ