How to Write About Yourself Without Being Narcissistic

There is this idea that personal bloggers or individuals who mostly write about themselves on the internet are being narcissistic when they share personal stories. I remember the first time I heard that statement a few years ago and winced at the thought. I revisited that statement quite recently and again, my objections arose, not because I have written about myself online, but because of the people I have come across the internet who do this. I cannot remember any incident where I came across a personal blogger or personal essayist and thought Ugh, they are so full of themselves. In fact, the opposite happened. Because of these people, these storytellers and truthsayers, I became braver and bolder. I began to take up more space and “go there” with pieces that had previously only taken residence in my head. And best of all, I made genuine connections with a number of these people. In fact, I found lifelong friends because they took to task the strangeness, fearsome, and exhilarating experience of sharing parts of themselves online.

I sat down and made it a point to think about what made those connections so meaningful. I considered why these writers resonated with me so much that the word “narcissism” never crossed my mind. And I decided to take my observations from these people and create what I hope to be a helpful guide on how to write about yourself without being narcissistic.

Writing about yourself does not automatically mean you're self absorbed. Click through for a helpful guide that will show you how to write about yourself without being narcissistic.

1. Be vulnerable

This is can be hard, but it is incredibly rewarding. Admit when you mess up. Share a not-so-pleasant moment in your life. Seeing your vulnerable side among the thoughtful personal commentary and among the accolades you may share will remind your audience that yes, you are human. In this airbrushed digital age, we need those reminders.

2. Share valuable lessons you learned from your personal experiences that you know others will benefit from

And as you write about this, pretend as if you are visiting a cherished friend at a coffee shop. Pretend as if you are talking to them and write as such. This mindset will help keep your tone accountable, encouraging you to write to your audience in a relatable way as opposed to an authoritarian, preachy manner. But I know that in other moments when you are writing about yourself, you may need to be more forthright to get your point across. Use wisdom to determine which tone is needed in your piece.

3. Turn your personal blog posts and personal essays into a conversation.

One great way to do this is to end your blog post or essay with a relevant question that your audience can answer. For example, if you are talking about a moment in which you experienced growth through a difficult circumstance, at the very end of your blog post, ask your audience if they have also experienced something similar and how that changed them. And of course, respond to them if they comment.

4. Directly address your audience in your piece

You can turn it into an open letter, addressing your audience saying “Dear (type of person you are writing to).” You can also write in such a way that it sounds like a scenario, beginning with “Let’s say you…” or “Let’s pretend that you…”  followed by what actually happened to you. After you have given them the brief story, you can follow with something like “that is exactly what happened to me.” That turnaround from having your audience as the subject of the piece and later revealing that it happened to you creates an opportunity for even more emotional impact in your post or essay.

5. Read others’ personal written pieces and let them know when they resonate with you.

Just as you are interested in connecting with others through your story, take genuine interest in others’ stories. Sure enough, you will come across others’ experiences that you can connect to. Let them know in a meaningful comment or email that it struck a chord with you. You can also share their piece on social media and mention how great you found it. By doing these things, you are demonstrating that writing is not an individualistic pursuit.

6. Be genuine

This one is a no brainer.

Writing about yourself does not automatically mean you're self absorbed. Click through for this guide on how to write about yourself without narcissism.

I hope that in your journey of self-expression, you grow not only as a writer but as an individual who seeks to make a positive impact. I also hope that you meet likeminded souls along the way, folks that lift you up and challenge you to be your best self. Most importantly, I hope you return the favor.

Have you found narcissism in personal blogging or personal essay writing? In what ways has sharing your story impacted you? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • Momina Arif

    I totally agree to the being vulnerable part. i mean if you’re gonna write about yourself, you’ve got to put in the failures. You HAVE to be relatable. Beautiful post, I have to say.

  • You’re right on, Momina. Those are the writers and bloggers that feel human and not this idealized, unattainable standard. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  • Momina Arif

    you’re welcome

  • Thanks for writing this one. I find it incredibly frustrating when people give the advice to not write about yourself to new bloggers. The internet is full of posts in the second person, and I think we all need to rethink the negative connotation of writing in the first online. Sharing openly and vulnerably is such a beautiful way to connect. Also, I think that lots of us writers and bloggers shouldn’t be discouraged from doing journal style posts–these pieces can really connect us to ourselves and others.

  • Rachel Ramey

    I’m with you — I’ve never read a blog and thought, “wow; what an ego!” (I have stumbled across one or two vloggers like that, but they’re the exception, not the norm.) Some of my favorite bloggers have a knack for writing posts that essentially say, “Hey, come here. Enjoy this with me!” and then share a little piece of their lives.

    I don’t think I’m very good at that, but I appreciate it when I see it.

  • People give that advice?? Wow. Folks are snuffing out personal bloggers before they even begin to establish themselves. That is upsetting. And you are so write. There is beauty in connecting with those who tell their stories profoundly and vulnerably. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Dayana. Beautiful name, btw.

  • I’ve never felt that way reading a blog either. The bloggers you mention are the ones that give me hope that the blogosphere won’t turn into a giant monolith of personalities shielded by pretty branding. We’re allowed to be human in the blogging streets and I am thankful for the bloggers that embody this in their writing. Thanks for your comment, Rachel.

  • Laura

    This is a great post, I’ve been struggling with the writing of my travel blog because it felt boastful/braggy, but this really helps.

    Thanks!

  • I’m glad to hear that, Laura! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • I learn a lot from a person who can laugh at his failures, faux pas, faults etc because that person is real.