Can we write without ego?
“Nice article,” hubby says to me one morning.
“Thanks, babe!” It’s always nice to know someone is reading. Even if they read on the toilet.
“Too bad it’s not really you.” He flatly replies.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had this discussion. He points out that the version of me that shows up in my writing isn’t actually me.
As someone who makes an effort to show up fully—which is often weird and almost always awkward. This hit me in the ticker.
And he’s right.
As a writer, I often slip into a persona. As a ghostwriter, I spend a lot of time and energy getting into my client’s heads so I can sound like them.
I write the way I want something to be seen. Choosing my words carefully, I sometimes stop to ask myself, “Is this really me talking?”
The thing is, how do I know when it’s really me?
Who is this other person showing up on the screen when I think I’m pouring my heart out and being real, raw, and authentic? You know—all the things you say you enjoy when you read someone’s articles.
So who is it?
I think it’s me.
Is it my ego?
There’s that elusive E-word that trips us up and we don’t like to talk much about. When we do speak about ego though, it’s usually in a negative light.
He has such a big ego.
She’s all ego.
It’s a wonder his head can fit through the door with that huge ego.
Am I right?
Oh, and there’s MY ego seeking validation.
Does ego show up in our writing? I certainly think so. We want to come across a certain way and have our words be received on the other end in a certain way.
I’ve noticed, in a completely unscientific way—that my articles I spend the least amount of time thinking about, just pour out in a kind of word vomit are the ones that people email me most often about. They thank me for writing it, or simply say, “Oh, I love this!”
Is the key to getting ego out of our writing just not thinking about what we’re doing?
These are all questions I’m asking myself lately as I try to peel back the layers and show up for real. We’re all changing and evolving. As a writer, and in this blog, I’m going to contradict myself as I dig deeper. My opinions will change.
And that’s how I know I’m digging and doing the work.
Also, I’m figuring this human business out. Aren’t we all (validation)? I’m doing it online, which means you’re getting a peek into my thoughts in a free-writing meets light edited kind of way. By the way, your feedback is only welcome if you’re playing in the arena too.
I’m not trying to explore the ego here. I am trying to write more from the heart. Saying what I want to say without a filter.
I think all we can really do is acknowledge that the ego is there. I think of my ego like a little garden gnome, hanging out in his green pants and Santa-esque pointed hat, just sitting there. Letting me know he’s there. He? Is my ego a man? Maybe.
So what’s the key to less ego in our writing? In our online content. Here are some ways I think we can attempt this:
1. Writing like no one will read it. Write as if no one will ever read it. Writing is largely a selfish act for me. I use it as a tool to figure my own shit out, and because I like telling stories. If no one reads the blog post you poured yourself into, will you be okay? I think you will. Trust the process and move on.
2. Freewriting or stream of consciousness writing. This takes practice. I do this every morning with a big cup of coffee. Like Julia Cameron recommends in her book, “The Artist’s Way,” write to fill three 8.5 x 11 notebook pages. It’s important to use large pages because small ones can limit our thoughts. Julia says this, and I totally believe her.
To do it, you just write, whatever comes to mind. No grammar, no editing, no trying to sound smart. I like to start all my writing workshops with this exercise for the same reason I do it most mornings—to get the gunk out of my head so I can get on with my day.
3. Edit less. As a writer, I know that what I often set out to write sometimes looks totally different than what I set out to write. If this blog read like a journal you’d think I was crazy, you’d also have a hard time reading it.
In a first draft, sometimes I’ll question my word choices when I come back to it to edit later. Sometimes the word I first used was a strong one. Or there will be too many F-bombs in here, and what will people think? And will they not hire me now after reading this? My instincts were probably right the first time. I should trust them. This also means I often skip over editing my blog posts. I want it done and I want it out there.
I’m no expert on the ego. Nor do I want to become one. This is merely an attempt at an observation. And by simply asking this question, “Can we get the ego out of our writing?” I think we all know the answer.