I grew up as a child with no verbal filter.
I wasn’t vulgar. I wasn’t “naughty”. I simply didn’t know when to stop talking. No one can fault my parents because, bless them, they tried their hardest to fix it.
I’ve found myself in many a precarious situation because of my tongue. Whether I was telling a private, albeit funny family story, or sharing too much about a recent trip to the bathroom, I couldn’t toe the line between appropriate and “better keep your mouth shut.”
Now, twenty years later, I find myself writing consistently with the opportunity to reach thousands of people all over the world. It’s ironic how life works, isn’t it? If there was ever an occasion that called for tact, it’s now.
You would also think that twenty years of experience would be able to teach me a thing or two, but apparently not. Up until a few months ago, I continued to find myself sharing too much information and hurting people because of it. Instead of causing slight embarrassment, I began causing emotional pain.
I came to a point in my writing career where I had to evaluate my motivations, my approach, and my tactic towards writing. Whether I liked it or not, my unabashed “honesty” was turning people away from my writing. Nobody liked reading literature that spent the majority of its time dragging people down.
I’m sure that you’ve had to face this question yourself. If not, I encourage you to seriously mull it over…
How much is too much in your writing?
I’m a proponent of transparency and honesty. In a world full of plastic, glossed-over exposes, we need realism to remind us that we’re not alone. It’s o.k. to be real. In fact, I think it’s what separates the good authors from the great ones. As with anything, though, there is a fine line to be balanced.
I don’t know about you, but I find most inspiration for my writing comes when difficulties encroach upon my life. In these moments, I can be as real with my emotions as I want to be.
If I’m feeling rage, I can dig down deep and access those feelings. It’s the same with sorrow, joy, or fear. As writers and author’s, this should come to us as second nature. It’s what fuels us and gives us our foundation for something greater. It can also be our greatest curse.
Have you ever found yourself tempted to write about that specific co-worker who doesn’t pull their weight?
Have you been tempted to disown that one friend who said that one thing about you behind your back?
The blank page and blinking cursor aren’t too far away. There’s an entire world frothing at the mouth to get the scoop on the latest gossip. Go ahead. Let them have it! That person deserves it, right?
I can’t tell you how many times those words have crossed my mind. It’s a tempting offer, but I have to remind myself that the quality of my writing, and my reputation, all hinge on the words that I put to paper.
We, as authors, have two choices that we are faced with every moment of our creative lives: Use our words to inspire and build, or use them to tear down and destroy.
If we all had to answer a survey, I would bet that 100% of us would opt to think that our writing is being used to inspire and build. However, if we were honest with ourselves, I think that we would realize we have the tendency to destroy more than anything else.
What do we do then? How much is too much in the literary world?
It depends on your motivation.
What are you in this for? Are you looking to expand your writing portfolio? Are you looking to one day publish a novel? Are you writing to air your grievances in an effort to heal and process? Maybe you’re writing because you find it fun?
There’s nothing wrong with any of what I listed above. Each item comes with its own unique set of rules and boundaries, but at the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself.
Coming to terms with why you’re doing what you’re doing will help you set the foundation for how far you progress in your literary career. When you’ve discovered where you want to go with your product, you can then decide what works best for you in regards to sharing.
As time progresses and your audience grows, you can, and must, then determine what works best for them. I highly encourage you to put their preferences over your own. In the long run, it will return dividends you never imagined.
For practical reasons, here are a few basic rules of thumb that I have learned along the way:
1.) If someone asked you not to share it, don’t share it. It’s common sense.
2.) If you’re unsure, ask yourself if you would be comfortable if someone shared this information about you to the online world. If not, it’s better to leave it unsaid.
3.) If that fails, ask the person for permission to share. Even go so far as to ask them to proofread the final product. It builds trust!
4.) If you can’t do any of those, it’s probably best to not write about it. Don’t risk your writing reputation or your audience’s trust. It’s not worth it.
The choice is up to you, author. You have the power to create imaginary worlds and inspire other people to leave a lasting impact on this world. Your words can be used to spark a change.
What do you think? What kind of blogger are you? What style of writing helps your audience? Leave a comment down below and let me know what you’re thinking.
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