Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What’s Behind Your Writer's Mask?

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Living in unprecedented times brings a lot of new “rules” we must learn to live with. One of the new norms for us today is wearing a mask when we go out. Though not popular with some people, wearing masks is one thing we can do to be proactive in helping restore our freedom of moving about without fear of contamination.

Writers have worn masks for years and in some ways, it is a parallel to our current mask wearing.

1. Masks make it difficult to see our joy.

The mouth and nose coverings makes it difficult to see if someone is smiling, frowning, or void of expression. We must look closely at the eyes of the person we are conversing with to see if there is joy.

Writing Problem – When we are writing, we often conceal our joy in the middle of words. Our writing is bland and the “meat” of what we really want to say is buried. Only our most diligent readers will get deep enough to find our basic message.

Solution – Once you have finished with your article or chapter, reread it looking for spots that made you scratch your head to figure out what you were really saying. Be intentional about making the heart of your message obvious.

2. Masks help us hide.

People are wearing masks today to keep bad things, specifically germs, from getting out or in. It has been proven that even the tiniest of droplets can spread germs from a virus.

Writing Problem – Many of us tend to want to remain superficial in our writing. Sharing deeply personal experiences makes us vulnerable. We are afraid if we share stories that could be perceived as negative, our readers think less of us. The opposite is true. The more we share with our readers, the more they identify with us. Many readers are looking for a connecting point and encouragement in their present situations.

Solution – Allow yourself to become vulnerable. Ask God what parts of your story you need to share with your readers. This is difficult, no doubt. However, I think you will be surprised at how many of your readers will comment and thank you for your vulnerability. Take the mask off and show them who you really are.

3. Masks affect communication

Have you noticed how difficult it is to communicate when you are wearing a mask. I am amazed at how many times I say to folks, “Excuse me, could you repeat that?” It is just difficult to understand others when your mouth and nose are covered in a mask.

Writing Problem – Sometimes we use so many words and chase “rabbit trails” and our readers don’t even know what point we are trying to make. Flowery language sounds good to us, especially when we first begin writing. However, editors much prefer we get straight to the point. If we are not able to remove unnecessary words from our manuscripts, the editors will!

Solution – For writers clear communication is the key to our writing. So remove your writing mask and all the “fluff” and say what you want your reader to take away from your writing. Don’t try to protect yourself with a mask. Readers prefer reading about the real you, not a concealed or overprotected version.

4. Masks make us all look alike.

With a large percent of the population wearing masks, it is sometimes hard to tell people apart. Yes, we have different colored hair, skin, and many differences. But our facial expressions are so important to who we are. We miss sharing a smile with friends.

Writing Problem – Do you want to be just like other writers? Many times I have met with writers and one of their first comments is “My writing is very similar to Beth Moore’s or Billy Graham’s.” Really? Yes, there is a lot we can learn from other writers but do you want to be known as a writer who is just like another writer?

Solution – When you begin writing, study other writers and determine what you like about their styles. Then start your journey to become the best writer you possibly can. Develop your distinct style and become known for being who God created you to be, not a copy of someone else.

Look at your writing to find masked areas. Remove the mask and do your best to communicate clearly. You have a message that only you can share. Don’t send it to the world with a mask on!


Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Linda is the author of 19 books and over 1000 magazine articles. She enjoys every meeting with editors and knowing we are all part of the same team. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!


  1. Sad, how they interfere, and don't work too. :(

  2. I, too, enjoy every meeting with editors, Linda, as I enjoyed this well-written and insightful article. Well done. Thanks for giving me a new vision of clarifying my words on the page and screen.

  3. As much as I dislike those masks, they can teach us something. You gave us great lessons and comparisons to use. Thank you! (The masks help in the winter to keep our faces warm, that's one good thing about them lol.)

  4. What a clever article. Thank you! These are super reminders.

  5. Very interesting comparison between the cloth masks we are wearing to protect from COVID and the masks that we wear ask writers. Your comments made me think about my own writing.