On writing letters for other people

Some days I spend so much time writing letters and emails on behalf of other people, that I just don’t have anything to say for myself.  For the last few weeks, I have struggled to come up with interesting (or boring) things to say, and I’ve drawn a blank.  When writers give advice to wanna-be writers, the item that often tops the list is: “just do it.  Just write.” The thing is, I write all day, but it’s usually in someone else’s voice.

For example, today I wrote a bevy of letters on behalf of my boss to various young people across the country encouraging them to keep up the good work and continue studying math and science.  Anyone who knows me will find it amusing that I wrote such language as: “I am so excited to hear that you love math and science–I love it too!–and I hope that you will continue to love it as the years roll by.”  I happen to work at a math, science, and engineering college that pays me to be all sorts of enthusiastic for those disciplines, but in reality, I’m a humanities girl at heart.

Is it odd that I find it so much easier to write for other people than to write for myself?  To answer my own question, maybe it isn’t odd at all.  When I write letters for my boss, I’m not really attempting to communicate the entirety of her being but am merely reflecting that portion of her that I understand and can put into words.  When I am writing for myself, I am often stumped by the confusing, jumbled mass of my thoughts.  I ask myself: “Self, what are you thinking about right now?” and the answer is that I’m thinking about what I’m thinking about.  I often have difficulty choosing a subject to write about because the field from which I choose my subjects is incredibly vast.  When I am writing for someone else, I write from a very narrow scope that is determined by my understanding of that person and by my understanding of the purpose of the writing.  It’s a lot more manageable, and it’s easier for me to tell when I’ve nailed it.

Another interesting thought is that the more time I spend writing for other people, with my head all wrapped up in their perspective (as I see it), the harder it is for me to transition back to my own perspective.  I haven’t been terribly active with this blog for the last two weeks because I have been busy and stressed and because I have been having difficulty locating my voice.

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