Writing Tip: Avoiding the I-I-I

Writers are often encouraged to “speak from the I,” sharing their experiences with readers and imparting valuable advice in the process. The trick, of course, is to keep that first-person point of view while focusing more on the readers rather than yourself.

One way to achieve this balance is to limit the use of I in your text. Copy that starts with I and heavily uses it throughout can be a turnoff for readers. They want your knowledge and experience, but they want you to be concerned mostly with them. (Rather like advertising, isn’t it?)

Try this: in your draft, highlight every use of the word I in red. Is your copy bleeding? You might be using I too much. Try recasting some of those sentences, eliminating the I:

Orig.: “In part two, I’ll cover the Google-Yahoo deal in more detail.”
Recast: “Part two will cover the Google-Yahoo deal in more detail.”
Recast: In part two, we’ll look at the Google-Yahoo deal in more detail.”

Orig.: “When I meet anyone for the first time, I suggest using Google to learn more about me and to see what other people have said about me.”
Recast: “When you meet anyone for the first time, suggest using Google to learn more about you and to see what other people have said about you.”

Check out these articles for more ideas on recasting your sentences:

About Erin Brenner

With a BA and an MA in English, Erin has been an editing professional for 15 years, working on a variety of media, especially online. Her niche is business/marketing and online. In addition, she has experience teaching editing to non-editors and coaching writers. In 2008, Erin was bitten by the social media bug...hard. Follow her on Twitter, @ebrenner, and get a daily vocabulary word, a link to the article of the day, and much more. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
This entry was posted in Writing Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.