Method Blogging:
Who Do You Want to Be in 2009?

Robert de Niro

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. ~William Shakespeare

You know what method acting is, right? That’s when an actor attempts to become the character by living the psychological life of the subject as precisely as possible before and during the role.

With method blogging, you can become the type of person you want to… before you have the confidence to be that person in real life.

Many people embrace blogging with a confident voice. They’re no longer invisible. They seize the microphone and shout out for all who want to hear. They love their audience, and the audience loves them back, filling the seats for each show.

Some bloggers struggle, though. Not everyone is comfortable standing front and center. These bloggers have a really hard time. They want to blog, but they stand in the sidelines, scared and unsure.

They carefully walk out onto the stage, inwardly wincing at the loud echo of their shoes on the hardwood flooring. They clear their throat and hesitantly offer a quiet opinion. The lights are bright and blinding. It’s hard to see whether people are watching. Nervous sweat breaks out.

Truth is, even the most confident blogger suffers insecurities. But these self-doubts and uncertainties just aren’t part of the character role they play.

There’s the key.

Putting on a Performance

It can be tough to expose ourselves on a blog, especially when we’re new at the game. But remember Shakespeare? All the world’s a stage. The men and women are merely players.

Blogging is a performance, and when you understand that, you can use the analogy to improve your confidence.

Go ahead. Imagine your blog is your stage. Your posts are the scripts. What character does your performance call for? Assume that role. Create the persona that matches the need.

Does your show call for an expert professional? Pretend you’re wearing a suit and holding a briefcase. Hey, you could even get up off your chair and walk around a bit to practice your performance.

Or maybe your blog needs a vivacious go-getter. Imagine you have a whistle while coaching people on. Would you clap? Would you cheer? What sort of voice would that go-getter have?

Be Who You’re Not – Until You Are

When you take on a role, you can act and behave differently than you do in real life. Actors in Hollywood do this all the time. Julia Roberts played a prostitute. Robert de Niro played a gangster. Brad Pitt and George Clooney played heist specialists.

Then they all went home to their regular lives to be whoever they are.

I’m not suggesting that we all become people we’re not. What I am suggesting is that if you have a hard time gathering the confidence to get on the blogging stage because you feel exposed, then use acting as a springboard to gain the confidence you need.

Assume the role that fits your blog, and play it to the hilt until you feel comfortable. Practice your role and rehearse your part. By then? You’ll probably have found the confidence to be who you want to be.

Then you can really put on a good show.

Image: David Shankbone

About the Author: Get free acting lessons from master blogging thespian James Chartrand over at Men with Pens. No SAG Card required for the feed.

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Comments

  1. Interesting encouragement, this “fake it till you make it” approach.

    I agree that all of us put on a bit when we suit-up and leave the comforts of our home and blogging is no different but there should be a bit of an exception.

    A true blog should include some “damaging omissions” and regretables, otherwise it looks like it has been fitted with corporate veneer.

    So go ahead, blog as your true self (minus the really scary stuff) and share your epiphanies and sobering thoughts with us.

  2. I can see the upside to this method, but if it isn’t done right (and assuming this is a newbie it won’t be) then it’ll just reek with fakeness. Not good.

  3. There’s no doubt that my experience compering a spoken word night over the last couple of years has significantly helped my writing. That, and being actively encouraged to use my own tone of voice at work (as a copywriter).

    In many ways, writing is just like talking out your pie-hole. Confidence and personality will always make an impression.

  4. This is very much the ‘fake it til you make it’ idea. I have definately used this in my blogging – and will continue to do so.

  5. I had to smile at this. I’ve long wondered just how real some of the bloggers I read depict themselves. I’m sure I would be surprised by some people if I were to meet them, but for others, I’m pretty sure I would only be disappointed.

    For myself, you are pretty much getting what’s there as I am no actor, not even behind the curtain of the internet.

    ê¿ê

  6. In 2009, I wish to be the one person to come to when anybody has a question in terms of link building. I want to take the blogosphere by storm and do something nobody has ever done before.

  7. Great Post. As a new business blogger I feel like I constantly struggle to ‘find my voice’ and make my blog show people who I am and what I am about. Blogging ‘like you want to be’ is a great way to find your voice and let people know who you are and who you are going to be.

  8. Dramatizing, fictionalizing yourself into a bit of a character really does help. We all do it, whether we mean to or not. If the “character” a blogger portrays is nervous and unsure, that’s still an interpretation. It’s just an interpretation of how the blogger sees herself.

  9. You are pretty right on here. Many times we decide to do method blogging without even realizing what we’re doing. I think the people that know what they’re doing with it and how to use it to perfection are the ones that are going to be more successful. It is just like acting.

  10. OK, James. It’s time for YOU to stop being invisible. Your adoring audience wants you to show yourself. We want pics to go with the MenWithPens brand. Don’t be shy.

    shane
    twitter: shanearthur

  11. Where have you been all my life! Thanks for a page-loud of commonsense. I started my blog back in June because everybody said I had to if I wanted a successful writing career. But that’s just it: I’m a storyteller, not a PR suit. Who wants to hear my story? I have a feeling finding you is going to make my task easier.

    Merry Christmas, James. I’m about to redirect my energy from military mum to method blogger.

  12. No, this isn’t the “fake it till you make it” at all. That consists of copying what you see in others and exposing to your audience what you think they want to hear and see. Most of the time you look silly when you do that.

    This is more about swallowing your self-consciousness and knowing that you are capable of being bold. Using the blogging platform is a great way to start, but there doesn’t have to be any faking to it.

    Everyone has something that the world wants to know about them; most people have no idea what that is and therefore cannot give it to them, let alone learn how to monetize it.

  13. @ Shane – I have a pic of my crown here somewhere…

  14. I like the idea of putting that towards blogging. It’s similar to the law of attraction where you just surround yourself with other bloggers who are successful so that you yourself will be successful.

  15. Actors & fiction writers know that we all have a bit of every personality trait in us. We’ve all got aspects of saints and killers and kings and peasants, it’s just a question of what we want to bring out for a given character.

    Very cool idea to apply that to blogging!

  16. Nothing wrong with trying to act and think like someone else. Can only build confidence and help for a different angle in a story that may intrigue others.

  17. Thanks for the tips. I try to vary my blog alot, sometimes being personal, sometimes just reporting silly stuff. Still trying to find the right ‘script’ for the right audience.

  18. This is a viable approach that has worked for a lot of people… when accompanied by a couple of key factors.

    Those who’ve achieved great success with it had at least a basic level of understanding, trust and confidence in who they are and what they have to offer… and how to distinguish themselves and relate the benefits of what they’re providing.

    Most people are uncomfortable with the “fake it ’til you make it” approach because they haven’t yet pinpointed these fundamental-to-success ingredients.

    Before going out on the method blogging “limb,” you must have at least a modicom of trust and confidence in yourself, your voice and what you’re offering.

    Otherwise, you’re building a house of cards that’s unable to support long-term success, sustainability or enjoyment.

  19. @ MaryAnne – Actually, I have to disagree. In method acting, you may not be a confident person but you can accurately portray a confident character. This type of method blogging is perfect for that.

    It becomes sustainable simply because you become more comfortable in your role as you receive positive reward. Recognition, comments, noteriety, links… Suddenly being confident becomes part of who you are, not just the character you play.

    That isn’t faking it until you make it, really. That’s simply finding within you the characteristics you needed to operate your blog with confidence. Make sense?

  20. @ Sonia – Fiction writers know this very well, correct. Every character takes parts of the person; the writer and character are very intimately connected, in many cases.

    And yet, very separate :) That’s the good thing.

    @ Craig – When I was taking courses as social delegate, the coach would often ask us to “become” people we weren’t. The drug addict, the alcoholic, etc. At first, it was uncomfortable, but after just a few minutes of “playing”, the understanding opened up in ways that were… remarkable.

    @ Rowell – Surrounding yourself with successful people and learning from them is an excellent way to get ahead, agreed!

    @ Franklin – Heh, yes, I’d have to agree we often do it without realizing it. After you share a few emails with people behind the scenes, you realize that much of what they portray in public isn’t really the whole picture. Which, I admit, is a good thing sometimes! We all need our privacy, I feel.

    @ Michael – Ah, perceptions and self-perceptions. That’s a very smart thing to put forward. I think you’re right; even undesirable characteristics for bloggers are often just roles we’ve stepped into at some point in our lifes and become accustomed assuming.

    @ Tom – I’d like to say something perfect about how it’s not quite the same as ‘fake it ’till you make it’, and I may have done so in my comments above… I hope so, because saying, “I don’t think so but I can’t tell you why right now,” just sucks.

    More coffee!

  21. @James That sounds like a great lesson. I’m sure actors do that all the time in classes. In writing I agree with you that it at times could be remarkable.

  22. Smart idea. Going further around persona, wikipedia defines it as follows: A persona, in the word’s everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. This is an Italian word that derives from the Latin for “mask” or “character”, derived from the Etruscan word “phersu”, with the same meaning.
    what’s about “persona”lity ? Each of us wearing consciously or not a mask in our life ? A mask we live with it since the beginning and we are persuaded this mask represent us ? Make sense ?

  23. “Blogging is a performance, and when you understand that, you can use the analogy to improve your confidence.”

    Blogging is about letting people know who you are or rather who you would like to be if giving the chance. This happens all the time with photographers. They are shy and timid but once they have a camera in hand they are outgoing and ready to talk to anyone.

  24. @ James :

    It does indeed make sense. I totally agree with the success breeds success principle.

    You wrote:

    “That’s simply finding within you the characteristics you needed to operate your blog with confidence.”

    What are those characteristics? Tenacity? Courage? Sheer will power? Regardless of the label, these are each variations of self-belief and/or self-confidence.

    Therein lies my point.

    The vast majority of people are [as yet] unable to see or tap into the “charactistics” that would enable them to feel confident enough to try the method blogging approach.

    Your example of the actor who lacks self-confidence being able to convincingly portray a character who is self-confident is the exception, not the rule.

    Otherwise, there’d be a whole lot more “successful” actors out there.

    :-)

  25. Fits in with the idea, too, of being able to create / tell a brand story.

  26. Model the best!

    Beautiful point on be who you aren’t, until you are.

    Really good point on confidence too. Lead yourself and others follow.

  27. That’s really a great idea. I never thought of blogging as a form of acting, but in a way it can be. And using method acting when blogging will be a creativity boost.

    Thanks a lot for the tip.

    PS: Are you blogging to me?!?

  28. James,

    Great article…thanks!

    Method acting and getting the the proper “state” of mind are basically the same thing.

    Being in the right “state of mind” is basically seeing who you want to be in your minds eye and bringing that person to life!

    This has worked for me all my life!

    It’s a great technique or example of having to see it to believe it.

    Excuse me I’ve got a visualization to create.

    Don

  29. This is exactly the kind of “excuse” I was looking for. I’ve build a blog graveyard complete with domains and fancy themes, void of more than a handful of posts. It was the lack of confidence.

    Thanks!

  30. I can’t say I’m in total agreement with the whole “fake it till you make it” stuff. A better strategy would be to become the person you want to be. Then, you’re blogging will show it.

  31. What i want to be in 2009? Well i want to bring my recently launch love blog – Cupid Blogger Dot Com to the next level.

    Make it to one of the top love blog in the blogosphere. Do check out my blog as i need feedback to improve from there. Thanks

  32. Great Post! I love it! brad pitt, robert dinero and so many other actors and actresses make millions a year being who they are not! Position yourself for who you want to become.

    Be a leader!
    Be outspoken!
    Be BOLD!

    GO GET EM!

    love the post!

    David

    http://davidbeking.com

  33. Nice advice. I guess this fits well for people with acting experience.

  34. Thanks for tips and encouragement. I really need them.

  35. ‘Writer’s Coin’ wrote that this method could reek of fakeness, and I agree. Unless, of course, you start to believe so thoroughly in what you’re ‘faking’ that it does, in fact, become reality. I’ve always remembered being taught to ‘fake it till you make it’, and I think it’s a great rule.

    The key is knowing what to fake – I try to write about true experiences that have helped me to get to where I am now with my health and fitness, and I know that readers respond best when the tone I use is from the heart.

    But I guess in many ways I never would have got to where I am now without faking it along the way – as in, believing I am in great shape and then following through with the actions to make it reality. Now I just have to apply the same principle to being a hugely successful blogger!

  36. Thanks for the article! I read this and was inspired to write my next blog entry. After reading your analogy to a performance, my words poured out. Gave me a boost of confidence! I don’t think it’s about faking it (as one comment mentioned), I think it’s about getting in the right mindframe where you are not wrapped up in what will other’s think, but instead diving into your own character to best express yourself.

  37. Nicely timed post. I recently (yesterday) pronounced on my blog that I want to be Writer Dad.

    I can confirm that confidence shots like his comment to my post and these kind of blog posts do work. Keep ‘em coming please!

  38. @ Chester – Nah, it’s easy for anyone to use method blogging. Hey, you can practice at home!

    @ David – You made me chuckle :) That kind of exuberance rocks.

    @ Cupid – Right on! Good luck!

    @ Steve – I didn’t suggest anyone fake it until they make it, which is really not the same as method blogging at all. But I believe you got the point of my post regardless, as per your comment: “Become the person you want to be.”

    @ Matt – Knowing is half the battle. The rest comes easy after that.

    @ Don – It reminds me a lot of when I was competing. You always look past the jump, because you assume, believe and know that’s the point where you’ll be in about 20 feet from now.

    Oh, and never look back. That was the second lesson of a great jump. The past is over. There’s only the next jump ahead.

    @ Burak – If you’re reading, then indeed I am :)

    @ JD – I think confidence is the one area that sooo many people struggle with. Anything I can find to help them find their strengths makes me feel good!

    @ MaryAnne – Ha, back to you! We wrote:

    “That’s simply finding within you the characteristics you needed to operate your blog with confidence.”

    What are those characteristics? Tenacity? Courage? Sheer will power? Regardless of the label, these are each variations of self-belief and/or self-confidence.

    Therein lies my point.

    The vast majority of people are [as yet] unable to see or tap into the “charactistics” that would enable them to feel confident enough to try the method blogging approach.

    The characteristics for each blog will change. A corporate writer’s blog will be different from an innovative designer’s blog from a mommy’s blog from a painter’s blog.

    None require confidence to begin blogging. You can utterly have no confidence at all and still blog. Will it show? Sure, of course. But confidence may not be as intrinsic to blogging as people believe.

    So, take the quivering-with-fear shy blogger who wants to blog about her beloved four Alpaca llamas. You point at her and say, “Here’s your role. You’re a multimillion dollar llama rancher. You have a herd of 3 million here, plus 12 more around the world. Your wool is famous – FAMOUS! Even Cher wears it. Your name is Llama Blogger. Go.”

    You’re not giving that person confidence. You’re giving her a task, a role, a tool – one that gets the job done. And after she slips on that persona, it just might help her see that blogging isn’t so hard after all.

  39. Yes it is true that world is a stage and we are all playing a role. But can anyone have a different person while blogging and different in real life? We have to choose what we want to show the world. We have to create a self image and believe in it then we can play the best role….
    Everything Under The Sun

  40. I’m really new at the game and have no idea of how to make that work,to pretend to be somebady with confident is really difficult for me

  41. Method acting is great — if you have a good script. Remember, the actors in question have scripts written by SOMEONE ELSE.

    If you are writing as an expert in some field, you must be an expert (or have one at your elbow). No amount of acting will substitute for the knowledge you must posses to “carry it off”. If you’re not an expert, then your roll has to be one of “a seeker after truth”.

    In other words, fit your “roll” to your level of knowledge. Don’t try to “fake it”, you’ll get caught by someone who actually knows the information.

    I write a blog for AKW Books for authors who want to write a salable manuscript. As an editor, I know something about what I want to see in a potential book and I write about that. My “roll” is that of a confident editor giving advice. BUT in my deepest heart, I know that I’ll occasionally miss a good manuscript because of my own prejudices. We all do. What really hurts is when someone ignores all my advice and produces a best seller that is published by someone else (drat).

    Conclusion: Assume a roll that fits your level of expertise (or lack thereof), but leave room for others to correct you or augment your advice.

    The easiest roll to “play” is yourself. If you don’t like that roll, change it not only in your blog, but in you so that the roll becomes the “real you”. If you get down to basics, most of us assume rolls somewhere along the process of maturing that become our “real” personalities.

  42. Great article. I do enjoy Shakespeare, and that is one of my favorite sayings. I am comfortable standing front and center and hope 2009 brings me more opportunities to do so. I feel I can be a voice for those who cannot speak or do not have the “oomph” to do so.

  43. To answer your question about why I want to be in 2009, I want to be Brian. But the cute nerdy girl version. ;)

  44. Most of us put us a facade in life and the world believes that what they see is what there is. The challenge is that most of us become the facade we build and our true selves never get to emerge.

    How about let me study myself and understand my strengths and my weaknesses and try t.o build on my strengths and shore up my weak spots. That’s who I want to be in 2009.

  45. Shanika Journey :

    Nice article. I think it is very important for people to assume the identity of what they want to portray in their blogs or business.

    After all, the identity they want to be known as is a way of branding.

    And you are also right about another thing: People must not mistake this as being a complete character they totally are not. They need to think of it as an extension of their own personality.

    You can’t fake what truly is a part of who you are. And it’s a great way to lead yourself into who you do want to become over time.

    Enjoyed the article!

  46. James, this is so much better explained than my “method blogging” post a while back on Performancing.com. Great job.

    I have used this approach extensively, but only on sites where I’m ghostwriting. Problem is, every time the publisher decided to reveal my name, it backfired on me (not them). Let’s just say that if you’re going to be snarky anywhere and it’s not your normal style, make sure that your name won’t be revealed.

  47. James,How did you know that is exactly how I felt when I first started posting.I was terrified, apprehensive and yes I could hear my heart beat when I saw my posts for verybody to read on the web first time.
    But I guess we all overcome that and hone our writing skill on the way to be successful blogger.
    In 2009 I promise to write everyday……………..

  48. Great post and great responses…. as always

    As a yoga instructor, I remember that in the beginning I automatically adopted the personae of “yoga instructor”. It got me through those first classes until I became more comfortable. I did soon notice though that it was impossible to be authentic while i was consumed with what I was thinking and feeling as I taught. It wasn’t until I stopped paying attention to myself, to how I was coming off, and started paying attention to my students, to their needs rather than my own, that I feel I started to glimpse myself as authentic. Students respond most favorably to these classes.

    My blogging goal for 2009 is to bring this perspective to my blog as I revamp.

    Best wishes, Brad

  49. I actually use this method on my blog. Peter Jones once said that kids want to be businessmen and women now, not rock stars, and that business is the new rock and roll. Well, I think of my blog as my own tiny business and have a somewhat rock star persona on my blog. Bit of a rebel, doesn’t care, and a lot of the “I love the crowd and the crowd love me” attitude. In reality I’m quite shy and quiet, with the odd outbust. I think it works, but it could be easy to overdo it and appear fake as many have said.

  50. When it comes to building a business, building relationships can be extremely beneficial.Of course you can create a visually appealing web site or produce fresh and enticing content.But it is the people that will decide whether your online business is worthy of visiting and sticking around at.So, can you pretend to be something that you are not?

  51. Thanks for a great post! I think whatever we do, there are times when we really want people to see the best of us. Job interviews, meeting the new partners parents, meeting new people generally – we try and show our best side and gloss over our faults.

    With blogging we can choose the information that we give out to people. We can show our good side, our confident side, our charming side without losing our own personalities; I think thats what makes blogging so much fun!

    It’s a good idea to pretend that we are more of what we want to be (confident, successful, whatever) because by practising our (confident, for instance) muscles, they will become more developed and we are more able to step into those shoes.

    This can only have a positive outcome for us, our blogs, our readers, everything.

    Best wishes,

    Ruth

  52. Really I think whether to use this method or not totally depends on the individual, just as whether or not to use “method acting” depends on the actor. Some people will thrive on creating a character different to what they normally get to portray in real life…whilst others will feel much more comfortable simply finding their own voice. Personally I think I’d like to create a character to play who is just like me, only better! ;-)

    Happy Holidays Everybody!

    Annie

  53. “Method Blogging”…thanks, James! Yet another point of study for me as new blogger…that I chose to blog initially was for the sole purpose of tuning the tenor of my writing voice.

    Question: If one does not know if the audience is applauding or booing, how would a new and unknown blogger like me get around this?

    Thanks,
    Henie
    http://www.HennArtOnline.com

  54. @ Hennie – Analyzing what’s happening is key. Plenty of hits, high bounce rate, no comments? The audience is booing, for example. Low bounce rate, plenty of hits, still no comments? the audience is interested, but not yet cheering.

    You can also ask. It’s rather easy to do and yet something so many people shy away from. Ask what your readers think of the posts. They’ll tell you.

    Another trick? Engage them. Get them participating. Make it interactive. Ask open-ended questions. Prompt them to drop comments with an exercise or their experiences.

    There are plenty of ways… you just have to figure out what works :)

  55. I think everyone has many facets to their personality/character, and we emphasize different facets when we play different roles.

    A father playing the Father role would emphasize the Father aspects of his personality at home. But at work (e.g. as a HR manager)? He will emphasize the Manager aspects towards his subordinates and the Subordinate aspects towards his CEO.

    If he changed his hairstyle and clothes every time he changes roles, you would probably think he was three different persons.

    I would think that the same concept applies to your blogging. Figure out which aspect of your personality you want to show for your blog, write up a character profile if you need to, put on appropriate clothes and hairstyle, then start writing.

  56. There may be an alternate method to make a tiny extra dollars by running a blog. That way is just not unlike the best way waiters, cab drivers, and even bellhops add to their income: the tip.