Writing About Yourself in Third Person
I’m offering a free “Morning Pages” writing group that meets for less than an hour on Zoom weekly.
Use the contact form on my website here if you are interested.
For the last four weeks, our Friday writing theme was a short prompt that came to me on Thursday, and I sent it out then. But I felt and saw much interest from participants last Friday when I mentioned the exercise of writing about your life from third-person point of view.
So this morning it all came pouring forth for you.
Our goal is to be able to put the tragedies and disappointments of your life into the same kind of context that a biographer would. Nobody wants to read a book about one tragedy after another, one disappointment after another, so the biographer has to focus on a universal theme and apply the theme to all of those difficult places that we all live through.
You are a biographer who is beginning to draft an outline of a person’s life—the subject of the biography is you. Draw your consciousness to the eagle’s point of view, searching for the main themes in this person’s life, like rivers and streams below you, and referencing the themes to some actual events of your life. Write in third person. You can simply make bullet points but remember not to over-think, to keep writing, and not to edit while writing. Editing comes later.
As an example of the exercise, I wrote the below this morning in 10 min about one of my longtime heroes. I have read a dozen biographies of Earhart so had material fresh in my memory just as you will have some material about your life fresh in your memory. I did spend about three minutes editing before sending it, but while writing I just kept writing.
The point is that you see what the biographer is up to here: apply the theme to the events of the life. There can be several themes, of course. For now, I’m asking you to pick just one theme in your life.
Example: You could say that being an airplane pilot was Amelia’s main goal in life, but the fire in her that made her a pilot was a pure sense of adventure. It called to her in childhood when she built a cardboard sled and “belly-slammed” downhill every chance she got, and it must have given her the will to survive after her final flight and crash-landing, living for a few weeks before she died of dysentery, according to eye-witness accounts of Japanese citizens on the Marshall Islands.
One might say that she listened to the call of adventure rather than succumb to the pain of being a woman in the early 1900s who saw no reason to act “like a woman.” As a girl, she preferred dark pants to colorful dresses, she refused to attend one high school because its science lab “looked like a kitchen sink” and was known in high school, until she dropped out, as “a brown figure who walks alone.”
Society gave Amelia Earhart no reason to become the person she was born to be, but she fiercely tuned her attention towards adventure, which meant she could more easily ignore social convention.