I've sat here during the last few days working hard on one of those writing assignments I dread. The client is difficult, the subject matter challenging, and the pay...what pay?
What I'm working on is updating my bio. For all the things I can write easily and eloquently about in this world, writing about myself is the subject that causes me the most angst. What should I say? Should I try to sound witty? Or should I be serious and straightforward? Should I employ literary mechanisms? Or go with a to-the-point journalistic style?
I must have rewritten variations of my bio about a half dozen times last year. Each time I tailored it specifically to an article I'd written, or a workshop I'd conducted, or a speaking engagement I'd given.
I can no longer afford the time, redundancy, or inconsistency that comes with continuous rewrites of my professional life story. Although the process itself has helped me to wrangle in "who I am" on paper, I need to settle in a specific message and overview that doesn't read like War and Peace. I realize now that I need two distinct bios: one that can be used more broadly for my business marketing, speaking gigs, and events, but can be easily tailored when needed; and one for my literary writer self for when I publish essay collections, children's books, or novels.
At one time or another, everyone has to provide a written response to the request, "Tell us about yourself." Here's is a quick formula to help reduce the angst and put your best words (and profile) forward:
Open with a succinct statement that puts your value statement up front. For example, "Jane Doe is an experienced pony wrangler who enjoys helping horse-loving farmers keep their charges safely and securely in their paddock."
Follow with a service statement that briefly describes more specifically what you offer or what you do. "Jane offers training and coaching services that combine horse whisperer techniques with proven command discipline modeling."
Add in your credentials. "Jane is the author of the book, Keep Your Ponies Penned, and delivers weekly advice on her internet radio show, Horses Galore."
Conclude with final credits. "Jane earned her veterinary science degree at Yucataw University."