Why is it so hard to write about yourself?


It’s an amazing thing, the way our brains work. Many of us are communicating all the time, writing reports and e-mails and presentations with no problem. But almost everyone has experienced this difficulty: as soon as you sit down and try to write something promotional – about yourself, your company, your products – you’re stumped.

The good news is that almost everyone experiences this. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced writer with many years and many hundreds of thousands of words behind you, or whether you’re relatively new to the game. Writing about yourself is hard.

I know that I myself, with two published books and literally millions of words in technical, business, marketing, and creative writing behind me, immediately clench up when I have to describe myself and my services.

If I’m talking to a potential client, I can weave some sincere and compelling words about what they’re selling and how it will help their clients. But about myself and my company? The words don’t flow. They’re cramped and stilted. My sentences get too long and complex.

Hard to write = hard to read

I learned back when I was a writing tutor at university that if I was reading an essay that was hard to read – slow, unengaging, uninteresting, convoluted – the student found the essay very difficult to write. And there’s no doubt that we find it difficult to write about ourselves and our company or product.

The result is that the copy we produce in-house – whether it’s a sales pitch or presentation, marketing copy, or even a simple e-mail to a prospective client – is not doing the sales job it needs to.

Perspective is the problem

Why is it so hard to write about the things we know best?

The key problem is our perspective. Naturally, we’re thinking from the position of someone who knows, of someone who has already bought into what we’re selling. And perspective is key in any kind of writing, but maybe more so in marketing writing than in most. Because we’re not trying just to inform our potential clients; we’re trying to engage them, bring them closer, get them to understand how our product or service is exactly what they need.

What to do?

In short, marketing writing needs to be entirely from the point of view of the client. And that’s a very difficult point of view to adopt when we’re bursting with ideas about the value we bring to the table.

But difficult though it is, it’s a skill we have to learn in order to write well about what we’re selling. Or we have to work with outside marketing professionals and consultants who can provide that outside perspective for us.

And if the idea of shifting your perspective is too vague or difficult to do right now, don’t worry. My next post will provide some simple tricks to shift your mindset and write about yourself more easily. Watch for it!

photo credit: A break from work via photopin (license)

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