A Tightrope Walk Between Personal and Personable

Personal: (adj) of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions rather than matters connected with one’s public or professional caree

Personable: (adj) having an agreeable or pleasing personality;  affable; amiable; sociable.

Many of you are aware that I like to talk. I talk so much that Twitter has put me in what I’ve been calling “Twitter jail.” Apparently I tweet too much in an hour’s time so Twitter bars me from tweeting in the next hour. It sucks, especially for someone who craves conversation and connections.

Close friends of mine are not surprised. Even new friends that I’ve met on #pubwrite and have only known me for a couple of weeks have quickly come to the realization that I like to talk.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to my chatty nature. (Other than spending an hour in “Twitter jail” watching the conversation between your friends continue on without you.) The downside deals with the definitions of two separate yet relatable (at least in my mind) words. I have struggled with this  my entire life and no matter how many times I am told of the differences, for me the line between the two always seems to be blurred.

I am forever forgetting the difference between being “personable” and being “personal.” My sometimes simple mind looks at both words, sees the root word “person” in them and makes the correlation that sharing intimate stories with others is a way to make a connection, even on a professional level.

This confusion has been coming up more and more as I continue to blog. When I come up with an idea for a post I sit at my computer and just type. I write as if I’m talking to someone, and in reality, I am, so there you go. Its like a stream of consciousness with me. I just go. I usually end up using personal stories about me or situations that happened to me to help write my post, as I would if I were talking to someone face to face.

One post in particular recounted a nice little fight between Sparky and me. Sparky is the first reader of my posts; he sees it even before SQ. He read my post and had one problem with it, the part about our fight. I was flabbergasted. How could he ask me to take out the part about the fight? There was some funny stuff in there and it helped make whatever point I was trying to make. He stood his ground and persuasively suggested that I take it out.

After some grumblings on my part, I took a step back (and put the shovel down) and I noticed that he was indeed right. Yes, the story could be connected to the point of the post, but it wasn’t necessary, it was just fluff. So I took it out and the post was better for it.

Sparky also suggested that I be careful not to be too personal while I’m trying to be personable. I think the reason for my slide into the personal is my need to feel a connection to people around me, even if they are just readers of our blog. I know that when people share a little bit of themselves with me I feel closer to them and in turn the relationship is more fulfilling for both parties involved.

But that’s for personal relationships not for a blog that’s primary use is to help create my professional platform. Or is it?

I’m an expressive person and that comes through in my writing. If I stayed clear of the personal you wouldn’t be reading this post, or any of my posts, because I would have nothing to write. Telling funny or embarrassing stories about myself may put me in a bad light, but it tells my reader that I’m not perfect, I’m only human. I make sure that whatever story I do tell has a point.  I want people to walk away from my blog, my website, my work, and know a little bit about who I am and how I work. Is that so wrong?

I think many writers dance over the line between being personal and being personable. It makes for more interesting posts, conversations, beings. I don’t know, maybe I am wrong. What do you think? Should my posts be more formal and stiff; my theories on writing clinical and academic? Or is adding a little bit of the personal fine as long as it has a point? (Or its a really, really funny story.)

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8 Responses to A Tightrope Walk Between Personal and Personable

  1. Savana Quinn says:

    Personally, I prefer the blogs that include the personal, rather than the mundane and dry. Without the personal aspect, it is too easy for a blog to feel like a classroom lecture.
    Also, I find it is easier to relate to a blogger if they include personal stories. It makes it easier for me to put myself in their shoes.
    I tend to put a lot of personal stories in my blogs as well, but I struggle with what is ok, and what is too much.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      I know how you feel. What is too much? I guess for me its depends on the post I’m writing and, well, Sparky. He’s really good at looking at things objectively, where as I’m always attaching feelings to the things. I think everything is important in some way, shape or form while he can categorize and prioritize with the best of them. He’s a good balance for me and a great filter.

      I also like when bloggers get a little personal. It doesn’t matter if they are introverted or extroverted, writers are deep, thoughtful people. The way other writers express their thoughts, feelings, ideas has always been an interest of mine.

      But then I understand where some topics of a personal nature can be over the line and not necessary to bring up. I try to stay to my point, if the story is appropriate then I use it, if not, I still try, but it never gets past Sparky 😉

  2. Serious? “Twitter jail”? I thought that was a joke. *pause to laugh for 5 minutes* Sharing a bit of yourself helps readers connect.

    Um… What was the fight about?

    • Kaye Peters says:

      I honestly don’t remember…must have been a good fight, huh? I would remember if I kept it in the darn post. Oh well.

      And just so you know, I may have gone in Twitter jail 3 days in a row, but last night I broke that streak and started and ended the night on the outside. *breathes in fresh air* Feels good to be free. 🙂

  3. Shay Fabbro says:

    Kaye…I swear you and I are TWINS!!! One of the reason I love your posts is because they are personal and I can see myself in them. They make me laugh and clap my hands! Because you are me! LOL

    I never really gave personal vs personable much thought until this post. My guess it, how much info is too much really depends on the situation. For writers, we have to sell ourselves, NOT just our books. So if we can make ourselves approachable and human and funny and quirky and tell a story that our readers can relate to, then they may think “I bet I would relate to his/her characters!”

    My personal nature also comes into play when I teach. I always add funny stories, or sometimes, not so funny. I share health issues that either I or my family members have dealt with (things like high blood pressure, obesity, cancer) to help drive home the lecture material. My students feel very comfortable approaching me to discuss other topics and I like that.

    Is it obvious that I like to talk a lot too??? 😉

    • Kaye Peters says:

      You are so wonderful, did you know that? I like how you said that as writers we not only sell our books, but ourselves. That’s very true. Thanks so much for stopping by our blog with your insights. I always look forward to your comments 🙂

  4. Allie Sanders says:

    I think there is a line that needs to be drawn. Like I do not need to know that you went underwear shopping (unless it was to find underwear for your character to wear and halarity ensued). I think being personal as well as being personable is an asset. Yes, you can overshare some things (not you personally but you in the general sense) and it can turn people off but I like feeling like I know the people I am talking to. It makes them seem like real people than faces on the back of a book. Yes, there are some things that should be kept to yourself but overall I don’t see a problem with being who you are in any forum.

    • Karen DeLabar says:

      Excellent comment, Allie! Thanks for stopping by.

      I agree, if hilarity ensues then feel free to share it. I’m always up for a laugh 😉

      But not everything needs to be discussed out in the open and somethings are better left in the shadows.

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