Thursday, November 18, 2010


Every day I write on (I'm on a 60 day streak!) It's like morning pages, but typed...sort of a form of stream-of-consciousness free-write journalling, an opportunity to get all the stuff in my brain out of the way so I can think more clearly and be more creative (at least in theory). It's private, so don't bother looking for that writing, and don't be concerned that anyone is reading what you write (like they can on a blog...though whether anyone reads my blog is up for debate!).

At the end of your 750 words, the site will tell you your "stats"--things like how long it took you to write them (I average 10-15 minutes), what the weather was like, how many times you got distracted (stopped typing for more than three minutes), and your mood. It also tells you which voices you tend to write in, and which tense. I'm pretty equal on tenses--talking about past, present, and future. But when it comes to voice, I lean heavily on first person (both singular and plural) and occasionally third person...but I hardly ever write in second person.

So I was thinking about this yesterday....and I realized that I would have a very hard time writing "you"--particularly consistently for 750 words. I am not entirely sure why this is, but I have a suspicion.

Most of what I write are sermons.

And from the pulpit, using "you" does a couple of things I really abhor.
1. It separates me from the congregation, the people who need to hear the word, when really I am just as much in need of hearing the word (and Word) as any listener.
2. It is extremely difficult to use without sounding condescending, patronizing, or accusatory. In fact, I think I've heard it done well maybe once in the past 11 years of listening to sermons.

Now, obviously, my 750 words each day are not a sermon (though they are close in length, LOL!). No one is reading or hearing anything I write there--and believe me, most of what I brain-dump there is so awful no one would *want* to read or hear it. But I still persist in avoiding the second person voice. I don't know if that's a deficiency in my writing, a skill I haven't developed (or have intentionally suppressed), or if it's actually a good thing to keep avoiding it there so I don't get into a habit of using it and then end up with it in places I really don't want it to be.

I don't know that I'll change this, but it is interesting to think about.


  1. I'm reading.

    And, as a composition instructor, I loathe the second person. The only place it belongs in writing is in a letter. Really.

    I hadn't thought about in terms of a sermon, but I think I would be really bothered by such a style. It would, indeed, come off as "condescending, patronizing, or accusatory."

  2. Still reading here too :)

    So, its funny... maybe its because I also don't like "yous" much in sermons, but I also get edgy when people are talking about their own experience in the 2nd person, and generalizing it that way. I never connected that before!

  3. I'm reading and I have all of the same issues...I mean feelings...about the use of the second person in writing, too!