By Edrei Zahari
Let’s start off today’s Personal Blogging series by putting yourself in this scenario:
You have a personal blog in which you write everything about your daily life in it. It doesn’t just contain the good time, but also the times when you’re really angry and depressed. One day, your boss calls you into the office and then proceeds to give you the third degree and a stern warning about how you have been blogging about your co-workers, your boss and your working conditions.
You know that it was one off thing because it was a bad day at work, but you can’t escape the fact that it’s still on your blog with your name on it. Luckily you get off the hook, but not without losing some trust from your boss and colleagues.
Upon reaching home, you want to relax after today, but you come home to find a message in your answering machine It turns out to be an angry mother asking you to call her back. Something about airing dirty laundry out for all to see…
Sound familiar? No? Well it has happened to other people and it can happen to you. The price of writing a personal blog on the net is that everyone can read it. No matter how low key your blog is, you have to have the assumption that people we don’t expect to read, will read. If you have experienced this before, you won’t be the first, neither will you be the last.
So it goes to say that if you have a personal blog, sooner or later, you’re going to have the dilemma of whether or not you should censor your own words in favour of not having days when people you blog about start reading your blog. If you really want to be serious, you could even password protect your blog. Though when it comes to that, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a personal blog.
That is until you find out there is a third option.
Cryptic blogging is a form of writing that allows you to express yourself without revealing too much. It is a tricky and not all bloggers can master on the spot. It’s hard enough trying to do that and have people that read your blog relate to it on the same level as well, but it is possible and here is the list of things you can do to make sure you are free to blog without giving yourself away.
- Be anonymous – Most personal bloggers start with a pseudonym or an alias to disguise their identity. When I started Footsteps in the Mirror, I went under the name Kamigoroshi in which I used for everything including my comments on other blogs. My family was none the wiser until I told them I had a blog, after which I started using my real name as well as put up pictures of myself on my posts. Remember, your name can be found on search engines so stay clear of it if you mean to blog privately.
- Hide people’s names – It’s common sense to know that if you’re going to talk about someone, don’t use their names. There are people that use things like “X did this” or “M did that”. There is no harm in writing that way, just that it’s hard to tell a story to your readers when you sound like Big Brother or Aunt Angst. You can use aliases or just refer to them as “he” or “she”. Your story will make up for it, which brings us to the next point.
- Master expression without telling – In the previous post, I mentioned how we should learn how to express without telling if you wanted to be good at writing personal stories of yourself. When blogging cryptically, it’s no longer an option, it’s something you have to be good at doing. So saying things like:
“I don’t like the way my boss is running things.”
Can easily become:
“He’s been getting on my nerves a lot lately. I know I’m supposed to do it without question but there are days when I wonder if he knows what he’s doing. “
Both refer to the same thing. However, the second sentence is a little bit more private to your thoughts and people can still relate to your life without a problem
- Don’t reveal too much – I know how easy it is to want to tell everything in one post, but learn how to keep your posts specific to a single topic. If you’re going to reveal too much in one post, people can put two and two together blowing your identity. Keeping it together doesn’t mean self censorship. It just means you have to be a little more patient. The added bonus? You have more to talk about in subsequent posts and your readers won’t be confused about having too much on their plate to digest.
- Use common sense – No matter how much precautions you take, it’s not going to amount for much unless you’re willing to use your brain in some matters. At the end of it, we decide what we’re going to write and how much we’re going to put in. At the end of the day, we’re the ones living with the consequences of our actions. Remember that some things shouldn’t be said no matter how tempted we are to say it. Blogging is no exception. If you can live with the worst case scenario, the by all means. Your blog is your canvas. Paint it as you’re willing to take it.
Now, standalone WordPress and WordPress.com has the ability to make your blogs private which goes to say it won’t be indexed by search engines. While this is very good in keeping your blogs private, I didn’t bother to touch this because people can still find your blog despite search engines. If there is a way to stop personal blogs from being our own source of betrayal, it has to be dealt with from our own writing, not just hiding it from search engines and password protecting it.
With a little work, you can turn your personal blog into a place where your personal life isn’t as open as it appears to be. While our parents may have a point that dirty linen isn’t meant to be aired in public, it doesn’t mean that we can’t hide them from plain sight between the clean sheets and properly placed shrubs.
The art of cryptic writing may be one of the hardest forms of blogging to master, but it’s not without having the freedom to express as a satisfying bonus. Just remember to be prepared to deal with the consequence of your writing. Nothing is completely foolproof, at least not when you have years of your personal life written upon pages of your blog.
Personal Blogging Series
If you haven’t already, you can read the rest of the Personal Blogging series linked here:
- Bringing Personal Blogging To Light
- Writing The Picture of a Personal Blog
- Public vs Private: Cryptic Writing For Personal Blogs
- Defining The Voice Of Your Blog
Edrei blogs on Footsteps in the Mirror, a personal and commentary blog. He often writes about his personal exploits, life philosophies, as well as tips on blogging and WordPress. Edrei is also an active member of the 9rules community network. You can subscribe to him via RSS Feed.