The impossibility of writing about yourself.

Last week, I was asked to write a bio for myself that would appear underneath every byline I have on a corporate blog. I panicked. I don’t know what to say about myself! About a year ago, I had a short bio written for me for my bylines in iMedia Connection. I decided to recycle that bio — update my job title, added a link to my Twitter account and call it a day.

That didn’t fly.

I receive an email back asking for the bio to be a bit more personal, to include a few anecdotes, some funny things about myself, some hobbies. I froze.

Let me clarify: I don’t have trouble talking, in person, to people about who I am or what I do. But that’s a conversation and it leaves room for questions and answers. I feel safe because I know that when I talk, my personality shines through. People can get to know me because they hear my voice, listen to my intonation, can detect passion and excitement and knowledge. Conveying all of that in a bio? No way.

This bio is where I have to show my very best to potential and existing professional relationships so they can resonate with who I am and where I have come from.

There’s no way I can summarize who I am in a paragraph.

Of course, I scoured the Internet. I Googled, “How to write a professional bio” and was terrified by the results. I tried the templates, the drag and drop, the fill in the blanks. I tried to copy the style of other professional bios I read. I searched LinkedIn to see if I could scrounge a template of sorts. Nothing sounded like me.

I even tried to crowd source my bio.

I figured if someone else could tell me who I am in a paragraph and in third person, then maybe I had a chance at piecing them all together and forming a bio.

That’s when I realized I wasn’t alone.

What is it about bios or “About” pages that has everyone in a tizzy? Why are they so damn hard to write?

Common misconception: “You’re a blogger! You’re always writing about yourself!”

No. Not me at least. I’m writing about experiences, feelings, emotions, but I very rarely literally write about myself. What I’m doing, who I am. Summarizing my life to this point (and including hopes and dreams for the future) seems nearly impossible. There are too many details, too many intricacies that, unless I include all of them, the story doesn’t fit or make sense. There are reasons, decisions, and choices that have played major roles in where I am and what I’m doing, that are just too personal to attempt to accurately summarize.

We’re all unique, and bios or “About” pages are supposed to embrace that uniqueness and share it. Holy pressure Batman, now I have to attempt to piece together who I am without using all of the details that make up my life, and sound interesting and unique?

I visited the “About” pages of some of my favorite bloggers to see if I could get some ideas.

The first two paragraphs of Jamie’s About Page:

For someone who has a personal blog and, clearly, enjoys talking about her life, I am horrifically bad at writing my own about pages. There’s too much pressure. Do I write in the third person? Am I witty enough? Am I explaining myself accurately? It’s just too much thinking for an about page. It’s too much thinking for basically anything, but that’s besides the point.

Because I actually feel like I’m going to get hives while I’m currently writing this, I’m just going to make this easy on myself. Here are ten random facts about me, which I may or may not change out depending on if I remember that I have an about page.

I looked at Nicole’s, Becca’s, Casi’s, and a few others. I got some good ideas, but nothing that made me jump in my seat. And then I finally came to Doni’s. Her “About” page is incredible. It’s full of fun facts, professional and personal interests, photos, links, everything — and it’s all written in third person which didn’t at all sound awkward.

But I still can’t write mine.

What do you do when you need to write about yourself? What steps do you take to make sure you include everything that’s important but not revealing too much (isn’t that the ultimate question)?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Jackson June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Easy as Pie.

Sorry I just LOVE talking about myself.

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Lauren June 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Ha! But, could you do it all in ONE paragraph?

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suki June 29, 2011 at 1:27 pm

I had a tough time as well, so I resorted to bullet points.

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Lauren June 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

For an “About” page, that totally works. For a professional bio? Not so much. Ugh.

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doniree June 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

So, this post came up in my reader, I leaned forward in my chair, absorbed every single word thinking you were going to share the magic formula that makes a stellar “about” page… well, stellar. And then you go and link to mine. NOT HELPFUL! Ha, I’m so kidding and SO flattered you loved it. I actually just rewrote that recently because someone asked for a bio to include in a couple of different places (that I will share soon).

Now, help me write a shorter one for my speaking gigs and guest author bios?

Thanks :)

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Lauren June 30, 2011 at 9:29 am

Ha! That’s great. I truly think you have a wonderful “about” page (and I mimicked some of your styles on my own — I hope that’s ok!). I’ll help you write a short bio if you help me write mine?? :)

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doniree June 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Oh, I just realized that didn’t answer your question. Here’s how I approached mine:

I asked myself three “big picture” questions:

1) What do I want to be known for?
2) What kind of partnerships/relationships/clients do I want this bio to attract?
3) What makes me unique?

That helped. Good luck!

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Caryn July 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm

I read this and thought, wait a minute, did I say this stuff out loud at dinner? Because I am having the same issue and swear I thought you were writing about me. I have trouble talking about myself. I emailed Doni for help because I totally agree- hers rocks. I thought you described yourself and job very well at dinner. Try to relive that convo if you can. When you do find the secret, please share it! I like your about me page, but I agree- a professional bio is a challenge. Good Luck!

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