- There exists a fine line between writing that is personal and insightful, and that which crosses into self-indulgent territory.
- Many writers struggle to achieve a healthy balance between being open and over sharing.
- Luckily, there is a straight-forward approach to stripping your text of unnecessary information that distracts your reader.
As writers, we often struggle to make our work personal enough to connect with our readers, while straddling the line between creativity and self-indulgence. The reason for this is simple: nothing turns off an audience faster than unfocused personal musings. Yet, on the flip side, if you don’t infuse your writing with enough personality, you risk producing a dry piece of text that nobody wants to read anyway.
So where does personal insight turn into too much information, and how can you find that sweet spot as a writer? Let’s take a look at specific ways that a self-indulgent writing style could be turning off your audience, and tips for improving those areas of your work.
You Fail To Take Your Audience Into Account
Regardless of what you may be writing, you should always have a clear audience in mind to measure the appropriateness of your tone. For example, you wouldn’t speak to a group of teenagers eating lunch and a team of bank executives in the same manner in real life, so you should also differentiate between your tone of writing when addressing these different demographics.
Any writer without a designated audience can risk putting off their reader by veering off into topics and stories that don’t resonate or aren’t appropriate for the given circumstances. Fortunately, you can avoid this simply by defining and researching your target audience so that you can align your writing to their natural interests.
Your Insight Doesn’t Add To Your Story
We all have stories, and few people like to tell them as much as writers. However, there comes a time when a great story is just that, and has no power to strengthen the theme of your writing. In other words, just because you can tell a story, doesn’t mean that you should.
To avoid delving into such topics and anecdotes, always bring yourself back to your audience, and ask yourself whether this story relates to their struggle in a way that strengthens your writing. If you find that the incident you are describing is only partially related or is only related to your unique situation, you would do well to reconsider including it at all.
Your Writing Is Missing Purpose
Before you write a single word, ask yourself: What is the purpose or goal of me writing this? You should be able to give a simple answer to that question; otherwise, there’s really no point to you doing the work. See, chances are, your audience isn’t tuning in just to read your writing; instead, they’re bound to be searching for a specific point that relates to their own life. Without a clear purpose to your writing, your end product will likely come out disjointed, incoherent and – in a word – unreadable.
The only way to combat unfocused writing is to solidify your objective right from the very start, so that everything you write can lead back to that point. If you find yourself veering off subject, you’ll need to employ self-editing until you can get firmly back on track. This way, there will never be a question in your readers’ minds about what the point of your writing may be.
Knowing When To Filter Your Ideas
This brings us to the next point, which is that a writer needs to understand when it is appropriate to share or filter certain ideas. While some projects naturally have more clear-cut boundaries, there are other times when the decision falls entirely on you. When this is the case, it’s important to remain objective and ask yourself honestly whether the information you are including is pertinent to the piece as a whole, and if it has potential to be seen as inappropriate by its readers.
At the end of the day, your writing represents you and the quality of your work, so keep that in mind before spilling too much gossip or personal opinion. In fact, sharing strong personal opinions on any topic can quickly take a turn into self-indulgence, so keep your opinion relatively subjective and avoid placing too much emotion or judgment on the line.
Placing Too Much Focus On Yourself
Finally, any writer who wants to avoid the pitfalls of losing readers due to self-indulgence should avoid placing too much emphasis on their own role in their writing. Even if the story you are writing is based on your personal experiences, it still needs to connect and resonate with your readers’ lives. This means, that you should avoid setting yourself up as the “protagonist,” or a “victim” in any story; but rather, bring the focus back to your original point.
Writing isn’t an exact science, but an art that requires a fair bit of trial and error to get it right. Anyone struggling with keeping their writing on point and free of unnecessary distractions to the reader will hopefully find these tips helpful in their approach.
When in doubt, always remember to defer back to your specific audience and the ultimate point which you are trying to make. With these ideas in place, you’ll be able to get into your creative flow and achieve writing that is personal without overstepping its boundaries.