Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"I" is Interesting

My gentle high school English teacher Mrs. Callaway spent the first several months of my senior year striking all of the "I"s out of my literature essays. She was one of my favorite teachers of all time - she was strict but encouraging. (I can still see her face, stricken with the joy of epiphany, whenever she read one of my essays. It wasn't that I was really that awesome, I suspect. She was just thrilled anytime one of her students showed genuine interest.)

After a year in her class, basking in her praise and sweating under her tutelage, I finally managed to write something without the word "I" in it.

But Mrs. Callaway couldn't have predicted the breakout trend of blogging. And that's why I don't feel any tremendous amount of guilt for rejoicing like a heathen when I read How Freelance Writing Almost Destroyed My Blog. Rebecca Laffar-Smith, an Australian freelance writer and author of the Writer's Round-About blog, explains how site stats finally convinced her to make her posts more personal. And that means using "I" once in a while.

"I" couldn't be happier. And "I" didn't need more convincing. But if you want more proof - complete with graphs and bullet-points - check out's post: The One Word That Helped My Blog Grow to 800 Subscribers in 17 Weeks

Obviously, there are blogs that do quite well by giving readers useful, helpful information without a lot of navel-gazing. But you know, when I think about the blogs in my feed-reader, I can't think of ONE - even technical ones - that isn't written in first-person.

"I" is interesting. And I really don't think Mrs. Callaway, if she were alive and reading blogs today, would disagree.


Serenity Now! said...

I love this Carolyn! *I* love this! Thank you so much for the links, I'm going to surf over and read.

Kai said...

It's funny, when asked the one thing I suggest people do with thier blogs, I always say 'personalise'.
Using 'I' when sharing advice and 'you' when suggesting action seems so elementary, but it's a simple timeworn truth. People want to related, and associate. Using I allows for both - you gives clear instruction, we is inclusive, and they is exclusive.

I know, I'm babbling. I'll think some more and see if there's anything I can add to this, cause I think it's also hyper relevant for some nf writers at present.