I wondered why.
Why does editing take so much longer when I’m writing a personal story?
Some people seem to write about themselves effortlessly.
But I find it much easier to share writing tips than to tell a personal story.
Is it because I’m introverted or shy? Because I’m still nervous about sharing my vulnerabilities, my human flaws?
That no doubt plays a role, but I also find that a draft personal story is often disjointed and rambling on endlessly. Editing can feel like a daunting, even an impossible task.
How we can make writing our own stories easier? And how can we make such stories more engaging?
1. Find focus to write your story
I recently read Olivia Laing’s book The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, an extraordinary account of her loneliness when she moved from the UK to New York.
The biggest storytelling lesson from her book is perhaps its focus.
This is not a memoir in which she shares her whole life, from cradle to now. Instead, she focuses on one period of her life and on one theme: how she found herself being lonely and how she learned to cope with her loneliness.
Laing investigates what loneliness is. How do other people cope? What do experts say about the sources of loneliness and its cures? How does loneliness manifest itself? She recognizes her own loneliness in art:
I looked like a woman in a Hopper painting. The girl in Automat, maybe, in a cloche hat and green coat, gazing into a cup of coffee, the window behind her reflecting two rows of lights, swimming into blackness. Or the one in Morning Sun, who sits on her bed, hair twisted into a messy bun, gazing through her window at the city beyond. A pretty morning, light washing the walls, but nonetheless something desolate about her eyes and jaw, her slim wrists crossed over her legs. I often sat just like that, adrift in rumpled sheets, trying not to feel, trying simply to take consecutive breaths.
A blog post is relatively short, so even more than in a book, it’s important to…