How Our Own Biases Color Our Writing
And why it's okay.
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No matter what we write, our biases are showing. They live in our heads and share our creative space and burrow into our work. They’re such an integral part of us we wouldn’t know how to express ourselves without them, yet we’re often not even aware they’re there. We think we can be objective, but our biases know otherwise. They’ve been with us forever and they’re going to insert themselves. They can’t help it and neither can we.
I’ve been writing opinions for decades now, so I think I understand my own biases. I know them when I see them. That’s not to say I’m always happy with them. And that’s not to say as life goes on I haven’t changed my mind. But when I look back on my body of work the fact that I’m an unabashed liberal and a certifiable do-gooder comes through loud and clear.
It comes through in everything I write, in everything I read, in everything I do in my daily life. I’m comfortable as an old-fashioned liberal, but I recognize it’s not for everybody. That’s the fine line I have to respect when I’m writing anything outside of opinions.
The problem with opinionating is that it’s insidious. It’s hard to stop, even in settings where it might not be appreciated. I can’t assume you agree with my political opinions, for example, yet they often wiggle their way in, even when I’m not aware it’s happening.
But here’s the thing: I’m okay with it. A big part of blogging or personal writing—or even creative writing—is being honest about who we are. Unless we’re doing straight reporting, everything we write requires building a personality. Our readers count on us being us. In fact, over time they’ll demand it. If we don’t develop a persona that stays mostly constant our audience will eventually drift away. They’ll move on to someone with the courage of their convictions. (Translation: They’ll move on to someone with the same biases.)
Once we’re brave enough to open up and display our biases, we’re sure to lose some readers who can’t abide our take on things. That’s okay, too. They’re not wrong to leave; they’re simply acting on their own biases. We’re never going to agree on everything, and no writer ever succeeded by trying to please the world.
So is there a way to stay objective while at the same time being true to ourselves? Let’s talk about it. What’s your experience? How conflicted are you about revealing your biases? Or do you think you don’t have any?
The truth now…