Monday, March 07, 2011

Does Sharing Make You Unprofessional?

It’s something I’ve wondered about, maybe even worried about time and again.

Does sharing too much about yourself make you appear unprofessional?

You probably know by now, that every few posts, I write about what God is doing in my life. I share because I feel that more than being a writer, I’m supposed to minister to others.

For me, ministry means writing about how God pulls us through those times when all seems hopeless. It also means sharing my struggles and my insecurities and my triumphs so that others going through similar experiences might be encouraged.

But is it too much?

Could it be considered unprofessional?

Okay, I’m going to say I hope not.

But that’s just me. It’s my form of ministry and isn’t that what a Christian writer should do?

What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

72 comments:

Joanne Sher said...

This is a HUGE struggle for me. I wonder if I'm TOO open with others. I share almost everything. It's my personality. I have a "stinking feeling" it could be a problem at some point, but I'm definitely praying about it. Just don't know.

I think, by the way, you've been in my head the past week or so. Looking forward to other responses!

Laura Pauling said...

I have never found your blog too open. It's being who you are and that's what is important. And if it fits with what you write - all the better.

Janna Qualman said...

For me, it depends on presentation. Some discretion is needed. But I think sharing personal information, details, experiences, all that, makes a writer vulnerable, relatable, sincere.

Awesome question, Terri.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't think so. I mean, I guess there's always a line that could be crossed, but I think sharing makes a connection with readers. And isn't that what social networking is all about? :)

Andrea said...

Terri,

All I can say is God has called me to be real and to share from my heart. It is truly who I am!

Blessings, hugs, and prayers,
andrea

Nehha N Josshi said...

It is a matter of personal choice. But I don't think that it is unprofessional.

Karen Lange said...

I think there's a balance. TMI is just that, TMI! But I think you have found a good spot; you are real and share your heart in an honest way. This is what ministers to people by encouraging, sympathizing, and being the right kind of real.
Blessings,
Karen :)

Julie Jarnagin said...

I think it could be considered unprofessional, but your blog has certainly never crossed that line. There's a difference between being an open, honest person and telling stuff people really don't need to hear.

Jill Kemerer said...

Your blog is always inspiring and encouraging--not unprofessional. We're meant to share our struggles, and you're selective with what you share and what you keep for yourself.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I think you probably know my thoughts on this. ;) God wants to use us in whatever profession we are in to make His name known. He will give each of us the needed discretion and insight to know where the balance is...(Col. 4). As a writer, you have an awesome opportunity to share what Jesus has done and is doing in your life. And I love the way you are doing that! :D

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I relate with Joanne on this.

I do think there's a difference between doing lots of complaining or slandering of others on a blog and just sharing and being vulnerable.

Your blog is on target.
~ Wendy

Lin Floyd said...

there is a careful balance but as long as your trying to help others along I think it doesn't matter if you are
"professional" or not in our modern world of blogging. Just follow the guidance from above and don't worry, be happy or joyful....

Jessica R. Patch said...

Terri, I love reading your posts and I never feel like you've overshared. In fact, it makes me feel more connected to you and isn't that the point? I don't think you're unprofessional at all.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tana Adams said...

I think sharing makes us human. And if being human is unprofessional then so be it. =)

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Whoops.Sorry Terri, I made typos and I hate typos.

I have pondered your question many times and, in the final analysis, I've continued to share what is in my heart. It might offend some people and if my references to God offend, well, I'm sorry but I must be real. If it makes me unprofessional, so be it.

I do what my blog title says....Write Straight from the Heart. To me, all that I am and all that I accomplish in the world, is because of Him. It is what it is. Thanks for the question and all your posts. Susan

Loree Huebner said...

I don't think it's unprofessional. You're not whining or going on and on. This is your space. You're connecting, human to human, soul to soul. God gives us those nudges when to share and how much to share. We must follow through when we feel it in our heart.

Stacy Henrie said...

Awesome post, Terri. I've been thinking about the same thing. I think opening up, being yourself, being vulnerable isn't unprofessional at all. Instead it allows more people to connect with you. So thanks for being you in your posts!

Diane said...

I think it makes you more relatable. I hope not too. :O)

Cheryl Klarich said...

Terri, I love how you simply share what's on your mind and heart. You are being YOU. And I really like that. That's why I read your blog!

Keli Gwyn said...

Terri, I'm another who thinks you do a nice job balancing professionalism with vulnerability. When I've been open about my writing struggles on my blog, I've connected more with my readers. I see you doing the same thing here, and I appreciate that about you.

Brooks J. Young said...

Terri,

Ministry is all about being open and honest with your readers and yourself. God has called you to share your trials and tribulations. He will also allow others to see His hands move in your life.

Sometimes I struggle with sharing all that I have gone through and will go through but I know that so many will be empowered to continue pressing forward by reading my testimony.

Continue to do what God has called you to do.

P.S. Thanks for stopping my blog today. I'm a newbie to yours :)

Blessings to you!

Tamika: said...

I've wondered the same thing! There are many blogs, and writers that I respect a great deal, and I grow from their sites but they rarely share their spiritual side.

Then, there's me. I battle not sounding too preachy. I just can't keep Jesus to myself.

I say, minister Terri! I know appreciate your words and posts the way that God gives them to you, just the same as I do those that don't make a big spill about the spiritual angle of this writing life. Be you:)

SINCERITY said...

Terri,

I have wondered about this same thing in my own writing. I think as long as you are allowing God to lead you in what you write/share then you don't have anything to worry about.

Sometimes what is written can convict people and I think that possibility can be intimidating because most bloggers don't want to lose readers.

But if you see your blogging as a ministry then come what may you should never feel bad about sharing whatever God lays on your heart to share. It may be exactly what someone needs to read.

God bless!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I don't think sharing is unprofessional if you do it in a professional way--but finding that balance is tough for some. Terri, I love when you share stuff about your personal life. Often times it relates to writing and it truly does minister to us. Thanks!

Heidi Willis said...

One can certainly go too far in what they share - especially if it veers towards the rude or hateful - but I think honesty is always good.

Networking IS about making connections, and if the only thing we writers write about is word counts and point of view and plot, what makes us different from every other writer? Being personal is what makes us interesting.

I think unprofessionalism comes in when posts become more angry rants. Frustration is okay to a degree, but once you start bashing others or the industry, then you've crossed the line into bad territory.

KarenG said...

I suppose this is why I have two separate blogs-- one that's more personal and one to deal with writing, editing and publishing issues, altho I still get personal on my more professional blog. I think if people want a to come across in a completely professional way, they'll stick with a static website rather than a blog. Of it's nature it's personal. How can anyone write a couple posts a week and not share who they are?

Katie Ganshert said...

I hope not too! I think a lot of it depends on what you're sharing, how you're sharing, and your heart behind the sharing. It sounds to me your heart is in a beautiful place, Terri. :)

I know I can say I've never read your posts and thought you shouldn't have shared something.

Sally said...

From the number of followers and commentors you can rest assured what you are sharing is acceptable. What your commentors share is a reflection of what you are saying. This allows you to judge.

Deborah said...

I'd far rather read a book written by someone who is real, and I feel that I know or can relate to...someone who's faith is authentic and reaches out, than someone who only writes facts and comes across as distant, or 'plastic.'
I guess if you are writing legal briefs or math curriculum you might want to be 'professional'....and boring! ;0)

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

I think the key is balance. When we close ourselves off from sharing then we close a door to possibly helping someone else. The best way to be the hands and feet of Jesus is to share our hearts and our experiences with someone.

I never find it unprofessional. In fact if I do not feel any genuineness about what someone is sharing with me then I begin to feel like they are just giving lip service to the situation.

When we sympathize or share about our own personal experiences it gives us the opportunity to show God's love in a unique way that no one else can do.

No one has had your experiences except you and they have to be genuine.

We are all called to witness and the best way to do that is to keep it real and keep it personal!

Blessings
R

Linda O'Connell said...

Everytime we post we are putting ourselves out there. I step out in faith and hope readers understand that I am only human. I do not expect anyone to embrace my philosophy, but I freely share my beliefs. You have no worries.

Sassy Granny ... said...

While I'm a strong advocate for discernment & discretion, I'm an equally strong advocate for transparency. The trick is in knowing when & how, & how much. Personally, I think openness helps to forge bonds. It can bite you, but I'd rather have a few teeth marks than forego the the richness of being known, and knowing others in the process.

Great question!
Kathleen

Shopgirl said...

I agree with you it's your form of ministry and speaking for myself, I learn much better through personal open and honest stories than deep theories.

Gina Conroy said...

I think sharing makes you REAL, not unprofessional unless, you share unprofessionally by criticizing, whining, etc. I'm sure in the past I've crossed this line, but it's always been with a heart of sharing the REAL strugglers of my writing life. Too many times people don't paint a true picture of the process. It's TOUGH! And I don't think sharing truth is unprofessional if it's on your personal blog.

Retired English Teacher said...

I guess I have to ask what you mean by unprofessional. If you are being hired to write a blog for a specific cause, I guess if you got personal, than that would be unprofessional.

God expects us to authentic. Some people are so impersonal that I think they become unprofessional.

Lisa Petrarca said...

I think sharing actually helps people relate to you better. You become a real person, someone who is not just "preaching" but showing that you have gone through struggles & made it through. It gives hope!

Stop by & read about my dad's Miracle! God is Good!!

http://lisapetrarca.blogspot.com/2011/03/celebrating-miracle.html

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have always liked your blog and the honesty with which you share your life. I don't think its unprofessional, you are actually an inspiration for all of us. We relate to you more and better because of that aspect of your writing.

Susan Roux said...

Self expression is self expression. If you need to write about God and all the good He does for you, than it's exactly what you should be doing. After all, you know when the big break comes, it will be due to His help.

Sylvia Ney said...

Never give up sharing your faith - that is Satan planting doubts in your heart! If you feel moved to share, please do so. We all need to read the positive to help balance the negative in life. You help do that by sharing God.

Melissa Marsh said...

I think it makes you human, and able to relate to others much better. In short, it makes you more REAL. :-)

Margo Berendsen said...

I think you have to find a balance between personal and "business" (in our case, writing) in order to be professional. If everything is personal, then you lose the professional touch. But if everything is "business", then you lose the personal touch that is very important for people to relate. And Christian writers I think should share more personally/spiritually. I often of what an amazing potential Rachelle Gardner has on her blog with so many people following her. She rarely mentions anything personal, not business-related, I wish she did more - esp. more of her faith. too much of course would drive readers away, but I think she could share more. But then I'm calling the pot calling the kettle black because I have one blog dedicated to writing and another (http://littlewomen21.blogspot.com) where I share my personal beliefs... I should be braver and share more on my writing blog, too, I think!


It's one of things I love about your blog!

Patti said...

I think sharing about your personal experiences with God is part of being a Christian Writer, maybe if you wrote in a different genre, like horror, it would seem appropriate.

Ann Best said...

I think you do well with this, Tiffany. I've never felt it's "too much." I've thought about being a bit more personal in this area on another blog, but I've decided one blog is enough, at least right now, to handle.

You mentioned in your comment on my post today that you go into Twitter off and on. I know I'm not going to spend hours at a time on it or I'll never get anything else done! But like you, I want to find the good information and links.

Thinking about "inspiration" and "Christ," this just popped into my mind: "Be still and know that I am God." I love this. It fills me with peace.

Lauren F. Boyd said...

I try not to share too much personal info on my blog right now because I'm still trying to get an agent or publisher for my novel. I don't want to skew their decision in any way by putting too much personal info out there. If I get a contract, I will likely include a bit more personal info on my blog.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

http://laurenspathtopub.blogspot.com/

jdcoughlin said...

I don't think it makes you unprofessional, no. If you are stating that you are what you write about. If you are staing a hobby or an interest, or some other positive motivation. But I did come across a post once, on a blog of someone I had been following, that I found to be in bad taste. They weren't commenting on themselves, but on someone else. It was too negative for me. Too much of a rant. Way too much. And, I haven't been back. There's enough negativity in the world. I try to stay away from it, whenever I can.

Lauren F. Boyd said...

If you write inspirational novels, then I think blogging about your personal experiences in order to help others goes hand-in-hand with your novels and helps build your platform.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Terri,
You have shared with professionalism and in such a way that we have been inspired and heart-touched by your posts. You have been yourself, and certainly an example of faith, and devotion to the Lord.

Doris

KelliGirl said...

Tiffany,
The sharing is who you are. I think that in your (and all of our) authenticity and vulnerability is where you really connect with readers.

Thanks for being real!

At some point you might want to have two blogs...one more professional and one where you can let your hair down. I suppose it depends on your objectives.

Hope you're doing well.
Love and prayers,
Kelli

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Then I am the most unprofessional writer out there! Welcome to the club.

peace~elaine

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I think readers want to connect with authors/writers. They want to see we're not in some ivory tower, removed from the rough and tumble of real life.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Texas Playwright Chick said...

It really depends on the person sharing and what they are sharing, in my opinion. For you Terri, I'd say you're annointed and are supposed to be sharing. You're inspired to, and I come here for that, and worry about it no more!

Paul Greci said...

I really like reading your blog b/c it is real.

I think everyone is going to have a different level of what they share and why.

Jessica Nelson said...

I guess it depends on someone's interpretation of professional.

I've never had a problem with your posts. They're expected too, because of what kind of writer you are.

Jeanette Levellie said...

YOUR kind of sharing is fine--we get to know you, and feel better that we aren't the only ones who struggle. It's in good taste.

What I'm uncomfortable with is tmi: affairs, addictions, family troubles. That does not belong in cyberspace.

You are fine, my dear.

Jillian Kent said...

It makes you human, approachable, and compassionate. I've struggled with similar concerns especially as I approach publication. Another juggling act in some respects.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

I don't think it's unprofessional, especially for a writer. I once read somewhere that everyone's story is universal -- we are able to relate to each other through our shared experiences. But if we only presented a professional self, if we built walls to protect ourselves, we wouldn't find that common ground.

I'm a bigtime share-er...which is probably why I am justifying it! :)

Bobbie said...

I'm a big believer in it's your blog and you need to do it your way. Not only that but if you're giving glory to God.. then go for it! Actually my new saying that I'm still getting used to is "This is God's blog". So do what you feel led to do.

Rhonda Schrock said...

Very good question, Terri! I like Karen Lange's line, "the right kind of real." There is a certain kind of drama that just sort of gets vomited out on Facebook and blogs. That does not appeal. But neither do I trust someone who never, ever shares anything about their own struggles and is unable to be vulnerable.

I think it also depends on what the purpose of your blog is. Lots to consider, and that's why being guided by the Holy Spirit is critical for Christians.

Thanks for bringing this up, Terri. Hope the job is going well for you!

Waving and smiling,

Rhonda

Maria I. Morgan said...

I like it when you give us a glimpse into your life! It IS comforting to know that others share the same struggles as me. And it's a great opportunity to offer the hope of Jesus Christ to others! In my opinion, share away!! God bless you!

Lynda R Young said...

Sharing helps others and your blog has been a great encouragement to me. (I gave you an award because of it)

Lisa Jordan said...

I'm far behind in reading blogs this week, so this is a late comment. I believe sharing intimate details can be a drawback, but being transparent can help others in their struggles. I read one blog on a regular basis because the blogger's transparent posts minister to me. You need to find the balance that works for you.

sarah said...

I love that you share pieces of your life..I never shared until I started blogging and have found since I have..others share with me...open up...tell the things they couldn't either. I wouldn't at work...or in other situations though...just daily stuff.

Nancy said...

I don't think sharing is unprofessional. I started this blog so that I could help encourage others. I know that you help me so many times. The way you step back and are real with your readers helps them to come to terms with their own issues. Please continue.

Julie Musil said...

Gosh, I hope not. It's part of who you are. The way I see it, that part of you probably seeps into your manuscripts. I think that's a great thing. Don't change!

Lydia K said...

I think it's okay. You are professional and don't force it in your readers' faces.

I think if your writing has a Christian bent to it, then it's in keeping with your persona as a writer and is not a surprise.

If your writing doesn't entail Christianity, as long as what you mention is tasteful and respectful for anyone of any faith who might stop by your blog, then it's fine. After all, your readers will come by, and you want them to get to know you and stay interested in your work, not feel like they are getting lectured.

I choose not to discuss spirituality on my blog, but again, it's a very personal choice.

My .02!

Lisa Daria said...

Hi! Just be true to yourself, because we can't please everybody. . . I've just came across your blog, I'm going to take a look around!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Terri, I love visiting your inspirational blog. I've never seen anything unprofessional in any of your posts.

Lynn said...

It's important, I believe, to share with discretionary caution, as well as be vulnerable to connect with readers. It's a fine balance. The message can be transfered without personal details that could be hurtful for yourself or others if in hands of those that are vengeful. It's unfortunate, but discernment is God's teaching too.

Stephanie Faris said...

I don't think so. It depends whom you're trying to impress, though. If you write in the Christian market, it's almost expected that you will not only write from a Christian standpoint but live it outside of your writing as well. If it bothers your readers, your editor, or your agent, it's possible they don't share your passion and probably would be better off in a different industry.

Philip Verghese'Ariel' said...

Hi Terri Tiffany,THis is a wonderful post and you put forward a good question too, I don't find anything wrong in sharing when you do, instead it gives a little more close relation to the reader and they get little more about the writer behind, i think all readers expect this when they read a blog especially when it is related to spiritual matters. Its really appreciating. I found your page is very informative and very lovely too, Thanks for sharing, I am joining in,
Best regards
Philip