Why I Advocate Blogging in the First Person

In case you couldn’t tell from the title of this piece (and the use of I in it), I write a lot about my own experiences and about my own opinions. I use “I” a lot. I include some of my own suspicions and conclusions about things. I write about things that I care about, things that are in my life, and things that affect my life. Now in most traditional forms of writing (or at least what I was taught in school) this was bad practice. In most academic writing you’re told to keep yourself out of it: stick to the facts. Don’t weaken your point by making it your opinion. Don’t make it about you. I’ve also seen this attitude around a lot recently: stop making your posts about yourself.

Well I’m here to say that I believe it’s ok for us to include ourselves in our writing (yes ME). I’m bringing myself into my writing and making my writing about me and I think that’s AWESOME. While there are reasons for keeping things as objective as possible in academic writing, there are also many problems with the idea of “objectivity” in our writing. Obviously all of us are coming from our own perspectives with our own experiences and writing about the things we care about for our own reasons. I see no reason to obfuscate those things. In addition, there should be no shame in owning something as your own feeling, your own writing. And particularly when you are blogging and are writing about personal things, when you are writing in an arena that is entirely your own, when you are writing for yourself, you should be allowed to make it clear that you can only speak from your own experience.

It is not being self-absorbed or making things about yourself to attempt to only speak about what you know. And it is good practice to make it known that what you’re talking about IS your own understanding and experience. Particularly in the arenas that I write in (mental health, feminism, atheism), experience is a massive part of my data set. I try to write about things that I’ve heard from others as well as just experienced on my own, but in order to be responsible about how I know what I’m writing about, I have to be open and upfront about the fact that this is what I experience, but may not be others’ experiences.

I myself have been told I’m making it about me, and watched other people be told the same thing. How can we speak if not from our own experiences and our own perspectives? Of course there is a time and a place to insert yourself into a conversation, but when you are offering your own opinion it is the best possible time to make it clear that you are inserting yourself.

Because I want to be clear about where I am getting my information and my experiences from, and because I advocate being clear in the way we communicate, I like the word I in my writing. It allows me to tell you all what I’m thinking and where I’m going with a topic. It allows me to be as bluntly straightforward as possible without sounding awkward. And it forces me not to pretend that what I’m saying is fact, but rather that I’m making an argument or putting forth an opinion. Where there are facts, the facts speak for themselves. Where there is conclusion, I am always there. So yeah. This post is about me. It’s written in the first person. It’s my opinions. I’m here and I am absolutely shameless about declaring that this is what I think.

Why do I write?

So now that I’ve established myself as an awesomesauce blogger after 2 whole weeks (or less? I don’t remember) of writing on this blog, I feel that I’m fully qualified to tackle a metapost about writing. Because I’m a Serious Writer who knows all about Writing. (sarcasm. all the sarcasm). But I do like to write about things that I care about, and oddly enough writing is something I care about. So I’m going to give you all a bit of a run down on ME (because I like to talk about me and I’m a little loopy right now so you get a slightly loopy blog post). (I’m doing a lot of passive aggressive apologizing for my topic. Sorry about that guys. This is what I want to write about! It’s my blog! I’m owning that now!)

Ok. So now that I’ve got all of that out of the way and have properly decided to tackle this topic, I think it’s important for writers to be open about their motivations, especially when they’re writing regularly and not for money and for a cause. I write for LOTS of reasons. I write because my brain is an insane blabbermouth that shuts up about as often as Rush Limbaugh. I can’t keep it all in, and I can’t organize it as easily inside the head as outside the head. That’s why I started writing. I’ve always loved it, I’ve always loved the creativity of it, I’ve always loved letting my brain run wild and letting words come out. I started writing for this reason more and more as I started struggling with mental health, and that’s when I started doing poetry and journals and personal blogs.

I’ve also started to write because I have things to say. There are a lot of things I care about. I mean a LOT. I have opinions and passionate feelings about almost EVERYTHING. I think my opinions are important (because hey, they’re my opinions, so of course I think I”m right). I also think that I bring a somewhat unique perspective to a lot of these issues in that I’m an atheist who is very pro-science but doesn’t DO science, has a religion degree, went to a Catholic school, and far prefers philosophy and the humanities as well as social justice causes. I think that I’m more temperate on a lot of things than most atheists and a lot more firebrandy on a lot of things than everyone else. I think the things I care about affect others and so I think they should be discussed. I think the more people read and write and explore the healthier a society will be, and I want to contribute to that healthiness. This type of writing primarily started for me in college with teenskepchick and some for College Feminists Connect. It has fueled a LOT of my blogging and been my main focus in blogging for the last few years. It’s been a big part of how I’ve developed my voice: I like to have a point or an argument to what I’m writing.

At skeptech this last weekend, JT Eberhard said that you shouldn’t be writing to get pageviews, and that if you are, you should just stop now. Well I have a horrible confession to make: I write for pageviews. I check my stats almost every day. I eagerly await the statistics from teenskepchick. And you know why? Because I HAVE places where I write for myself. I have MANY places where I write for myself. I have other blogs that I don’t share nearly as often. I have my journal. I have the beginnings of a book that I’m working on. I check these blogs because these blogs are not just about me, they are about a movement and a message. I CARE about how many people read what I’m saying because a.I want to know if I can get any feedback and if I’m talking about important things in a good way and b.because I think what I have to say is important. PLUS I want some recognition for all the hard work I put in here. Wanting some attention and recognition is a completely human and normal and good thing. I don’t often get to display the way my mind works for others, and I want some recognition that it’s ok and good.

I also write in a similar way to how I use crafts (which I talked about in a post yesterday). It is to create a self-identity and to assert myself into the world. Writing in my mind is one of the freest activities we can undertake. It allows us to express ourselves, to put ourselves forward, to ask for attention and to give ourselves attention. It allows us to shape and create ideas, one of the most powerful things we can do in this world. And it allows us to potentially influence others with our ideas and thoughts. It allows us to have some control over our world because we get to figure out how to understand it, how to shape it, how to work to influence it. ¬†Words are one of the few things we can create entirely through our own power. That’s so cool to me.

So in many ways, I write to check my sanity, to see if what I’m thinking and feeling seems reasonable to others. I write to start those kinds of discussions. I write to explore elements of what I’m passionate about to see what others are thinking or feeling about those same things.

And finally, and most vainly, I write because I actually think I’m fairly good at it. This is big for me. I don’t have a whole helluva lot of self-confidence. In fact I think I suck at most things. But I’m finally beginning to become convinced that I might have some talent at writing. It might be where I’m at home, where I can be myself and still contribute something. It might be a place where I’d feel I have some authority and knowledge, where I don’t feel I have to bow to other’s opinions and feelings. This might be where I can stand up and assert myself, where I LET myself have opinions and express those opinions (something I often don’t do in my personal life). I write sometimes so that people will tell me I’m good at writing. And ya know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Because I need some positive reinforcement in my life right now. Doing something I’m good at and being recognized for it is taking care of my mental health. So fuck the haters who say you can’t write to get appreciation. Of COURSE I write for myself, but part of that is writing for others.

So this blog is an amalgamation of all of those bits. It’s a little bit of passion, a little bit of hobby, a little bit of social justice, a little bit of my brain sorting itself out, and a little bit of vanity. What about you all? Why are you here? Why do you read my blog? What do you want to see more of? Would you be interested in reading my creative writing (oof it’s been a while since I’ve done that, I could use some practice)? Do you buy the idea that writing has power even when no one else necessarily read its?

PS-the featured picture is not me, in case you were curious. It is however approximately how I look while I’m writing.