Tips For Writers Tips By Mary Jaksch How much should we reveal as writers? ? How down and out personal do you get? Maybe you enjoy a public strip-tease. I don’t. I’m quite a private person. But as a blogger, I’ve had to change. When I started blogging, I tried to write in an objective manner, without letting my life leak into my blog. Well, it didn’t work. People want personal. Readers want to get to know your strengths and weaknesses, your fears, passions, and omissions. But how much should you reveal? Do you keep you pants on, or do you bare all? Let’s look at some examples: Tina Su gave a blow-by-blow description of her relationship breakup last year. I see that those posts have now been taken off her blog. I’m not surprised! Even if we write about our personal experience of a break-up, we tend to blame our partner in some invidious way. “I feel disempowered!” means “He/she is a bully!”. Or “I just don’t feel listened to”, means “He/she has bad communication skills.” Here’s Steve Pavlina’s confession about going to prison for shoplifting in his book PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR SMART PEOPLE: I began stealing shortly after moving to Berkeley, California, during my first semester at UC Berkeley. I didn’t steal for money or to build a reputation-I stole for the thrill. I was addicted to the surge of adrenaline. The compulsion to steal was so strong that shoplifting was part of my routine, nothing more than my daily espresso. Jonathan Mead has done his share of confessing as well. This is from his post about recovering from his cocaine addiction, trafficking, and overdose : I didn’t know whether I had been sleeping or had gone unconscious. When I woke up, my girlfriend was on the phone with the paramedics. I was trying to make sense of everything, but every logical faculty within me had been shut down. An ambulance was pulling up to our house and she was directing me to go downstairs. I had a seizure due to overdose. At the time I urged him to delete that particular post from his blog. I was anxious about his future employment options and how such a confession could haunt him for the rest of his life. But Jonathan decided to leave it on his blog. I respect his decision – but it still makes me nervous. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits also tends to confess. For example in his post about conquering fear. I’ve been there. I’ve had those horrors of guilt and panic at the back of my mind, many times. I’ve done it with debt – I let the letters from creditors pile up, trying to ignore them, not wanting to face them. I’ve done it with my health, knowing I was growing overweight, not wanting to think about the things I was eating. I’ve done it with smoking, knowing it was bad for me, but trying not to think about it, puffing away. I’ve done it with projects that I knew I should be working on, but didn’t want to think about them … because I was afraid, for some reason, to face them. As a blogger I’ve learned to reveal more about my personal quirks, especially on Goodlife Zen. But I haven’t got any really juicy bits to confess. Well, apart from the time when I was seventeen and someone gave me Hashish to smoke until I couldn’t remember the beginning of any sentence I managed to end. It actually put me off drugs for life. Yes, blogging reveals a lot about us. Some bloggers try to evade that through writing under a pseudonym and taking on some sort of fake persona. But leaving that aside, I’m still not clear about how much to reveal. Can I please have your input? Please tell me what you think: How much should we reveal as writers?