Who Are You When You Write?

Who Are You When You Write?I recently had a conversation with a coworker whereby we discussed who we are when we write. We are both writers by profession, and we both pursue personal writing outside of the writing that we do for our jobs. Most of what we write for work is non-fiction, and because of the type of content, we can’t leave much of ourselves in it other than small hints that only learned writers would see—a serial comma here, em dash there, and so on. More so style choices than anything else.

I do write this blog, and it is also non-fiction, but it leaves more of my personality behind than my professional writing does. You can easily see what my interests are by looking back over my posts, and by the way that I write, you can make a few assumptions as well. If you were notably observant, you would most-likely glean that I have pets, I write some horror, and I dabble in a number of other services outside of writing, such as editing, publishing, marketing, and design, to name a few.

But, do you really know me? Does enough of my personality leak out into the words for you to have a good idea of who is behind these words? I don’t think so. I think that we, as writers, choose who we wish to show to the public and who we keep to ourselves. The self that we show to the public is what we want people to see, the piece that we keep to ourselves is the one that encompasses all of our faults and families and friends. Not everyone writes that way, of course, some bare all and write about their innermost thoughts and desires. I’ve heard that it can even be freeing to do so, because the people that you are writing for don’t know you from anyone else and the release of your emotions can be quite wonderful.

I, however, am very careful about who I am when I write for the public. Part of the reason is probably that since I have to guard my writing for clients and employers, it’s just instinct for me to do so. The other part being that I am actually quite a private person. I may talk about general things of interest, or vague opinions, but nothing that would ever lead anyone to know who I am.

It’s not that I am a disappointment to myself, or that I don’t like to share, I am just one of many, many introverts, that prefers to have a different life at home that online, or even on paper. There have been a number of writers, and other professionals, out there who have removed themselves from any sort of spotlight, focusing on their skills instead of whatever interest those skills may pull in.

I wouldn’t say that I am completely different from the person that I seem to be when I write, but I am not as precise, eloquent, or even as thoughtful in real-time as I am on here. Writing has always been my communication of choice, because it allows me to sort my thoughts and feelings into a cohesive and well-organized retort or piece instead of the interjections, interruptions, or debates that arise when speaking.

This post plays a bit into another one I did about not feeling that you have to reflect your genre of writing. Artists of any kind have the opportunity to portray whatever they choose in their work, and it doesn’t always have to relate to the individual that created it. Sometimes, art just happens, and we aren’t always 100% responsible for what it becomes.

So, I ask, who are you when you write? What do you think you have learned about me from reading my posts?

To get into the sharing mood, I’ll tell you that my favourite days are filled with rain, I have two dogs and a cat, and I come from an acreage in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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33 thoughts on “Who Are You When You Write?

      • in a way I guess you are right, but I think we are unique both with our writing voice and who we are personally. Our written language is far different than our spoken language. I have a regional accent this doesn’t come across in my writing. I can take on many different characters in my writing, yet my writer’s voice stay true to me. Interesting isn’t it.

      • I’ve just reread your posting and understanding more the point you are getting at. I agree about keeping something of yourself back. Only those close to you, know more about the real you. I think we are different people to all around us. The characters I write allow me to explore other elements of myself which are even unknown to me. Frightening, but true. I like to think I’m a gentle person at heart as I write about murder from the point of view of the criminal I can explore my darker side.

  1. I’e never felt that I was quite me whilst writing. I was always the situation I imagined and the characters involved. Which I suppose to some degree are fragments of myself. Different ways in which I might have reacted to a situation, or me with a different agenda, or history. I think it highly depends on what I’m writing and why. If I’m writing fiction, I become the characters, who i suppose, become fragments of me. If I am writing a journal, I am explicitly me, uncensored. For good or ill.

  2. When I write I believe I become the someone I want — or at least would like — to be, depending on the subject matter and context. I don’t inhabit a specific persona, per se. If you were to read my blog, you would discover my varied interests and hobbies, but little else of interest. I don’t share my “self” in my writing as there aspects of the “me” I prefer to keep to myself, either because they are of little interest or because they are so abrasive as to be repellent. The only ones capable of putting up with “me” behind the pen are my cats, of which I have four.

    • I think that’s true of many of us. Writing can bring out the best of us, it allows us to choose who we want to portray. It’s both freeing and cage-like all at once, if we get trapped in one voice.

  3. Great perspective of the origin of the writing, and the writer’s authenticity. It never occurred to me that a writer could assume a different persona when writing.
    I am going to have to read further back on your blog to better my “listening” skills while reading. Great challenge!

  4. Interesting post. I do find I have different voice when I write. It even varies between my professional and personal writing. In real life my language is quiet, simple, subdued. At work my language is formal and professional. And when I write for fun my language is light and playful. Light and playful is my most authentic voice, oddly. It feels the truest to me. Guess I’m just too reserved to let that out in real life. Never noticed that before your post. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Weekend Wrap-up: food, lots of poem stuff, and other stuff in between | breakfast with words

  6. It is precisely because I so introverted myself that I hold absolutely nothing back when I write. Writing is the only place where I can fully express my emotions in a way where other people can understand them to. It may sound a little juvenile, but I do my best to write what makes me the most happy, the saddest, uncomfortable etc. I try to bleed the words. I read somewhere once that readers can tell if you take joy in the act of writing itself just by reading your work afterwards. I hope to someday reach that level of transparency with my writing. Thanks to my speech to text software I have now, at least finally my dyslexia isn’t getting in the way of my using my entire vocabulary toward that goal.

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