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.)