Great advice from Anne Lamott. Thanks for sharing!
In the spirit of full-disclosure, at least half of the blogs I follow are blogs about dogs. While these blogs may focus on a certain niche reader, there is a common post type that I often see on pet-related blogs: posts written from a different point of view. Namely, posts written from the perspective of the blog owner’s pet.
It is certainly a cute post style to read, and to write. For example, one of my favorite blogs, Love and a Six-Foot Leash, showcases a weekly column written from Chick’s perspective, the blog owner’s dog: “Chix-A-Lot Fridays.” As a reader, these types of posts offer a fresh perspective and a light-hearted way to break up the regular style of the blog.
Writing from someone else’s point of view doesn’t fit with all blog types, but it is an excellent writing exercise that helps you to refine your word selection and stretch your imagination. When writing in someone else’s voice, the process is no longer automatic. Instead, you first need to “become” that person, and then write.
When done well, writing from another person’s perspective sounds natural. In Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott writes about dialogue and the same rules hold true here: “First of all, sound your words — read them out loud.” Who knows what a dog’s thoughts, or anyone else’s for that matter, sound like? The idea is to not sound like yourself, and to sound effortless when doing so.
If you do choose to incorporate this exercise or style into your blog, it’s a good idea to make a clear distinction for your readers by using a unique title or preface. This helps to avoid any confusion, especially if you’re suddenly referring to yourself in the third-person. These posts are also an excellent option for a weekly feature, which can help to generate new post ideas and can refresh your regular writing schedule. If you’re writing as a fictional character, be sure to provide background for your readers. If you’re writing as one of your pets or kids, add some pictures for context.
This ability to stretch your writing so that you can express what it’s like to be someone else is an excellent exercise. Even if you find that it won’t work well with your blog in particular, I strongly believe in using writing exercises to help improve as a writer overall. Try it out privately or share it with a friend — it’s a lot of fun and can even be pretty therapeutic.
Have you ever written from someone else’s point of view on your site? If so, how did you incorporate it into your blog? If not, have you ever tried?
People who write as their dog or cat irritate the dogs and cat here at the DogWalkBlog. While we have fun with impersonating our dogs from time to time, our blog is NOT about writing from a dog’s perspective, rather from the human perspective about stuff that we ruminate on while walking the dogs. Dogs do a limited number of things: Sleep, eat, poop, pee, chase a ball, repeat. That is simply not a sustainable blog.
The only other thing that is more irritating is when they use a baby voice when impersonating their dog. I’ve spoken with my dogs and they even agree that is silly. The cat dissented, however.
@Jennifer M….I visited your blog and it reminds me of Stuart Little. How cute and I love it. @Erica…this gives me tons of new ideas and the creativity of it could go a long way. Thank you for new ideas to keep the old brain stimulated.
Well, I write fiction, and I have from time to time written from the perspective of a character in the story. In one story in particular, tha narrator is an invisible woman *and* a character in the story. Like you said, you have to take time to get into the character’s head before you can start writing. Many of my other stories are also written in the first-person, which for some reason is considered a no-no, but my narrators don’t come across as all-knowing. I figure the narrator is like a camera, and a camera can’t know what it doesn’t see. But that can take some doing…
I tried to write “Killing Pahnke” from the perspective of a very different person. And yet I based it some in things that happened to me and some parts in stories I heard from other people. I’d be very curious to hear what people think. http://www.aroundtheworldineightyyears.com/writing/killing-pahnke/
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