So far in this Be Your Own Ghostwriter series you have been introduced to the basics of writing effectively. In Part 5, you move on to the more subtle aspects of putting together something in writing which serves the dual purpose of delivering your message and enhancing your brand. That brand may be business, law, politics or academia.
Given the popularity of the anti-hero, you are wondering if you should apply that meme to yourself. After all, this is the era of the memoir. In those personal histories, authors confess to all sorts of flaws and bad behavior. On television, audiences are riveted by the inner turmoil and anti-social activities of Don Draper, Walter White and Tony Soprano. It's natural that you are considering letting something negative hang out in your books, articles, opinion-editorials, blog posts and newsletters.
Obviously, there is risk involved. It is one thing to publish a commentary in The York Times about the demise of personal integrity, in entertainment, politics and real life. It's another to frame yourself as flawed.
However, just a bit of that kind of negative could attract a lot of attention, at low risk. In his prime as a Politico, John Edwards published an opinion-editorial whose first line read, "I was wrong." That went viral. It was both provocative and demonstrated that the author had courage.
So, yes, you can confess to small sins, such as an error of judgment. That's framed as Lessons Learned. From the bad has to come good. That's the formula for confessing our sins in the medium of writing.
There are exceptions to this low-risk approach. Perhaps you have truly fallen from grace in a very public way. It could help your comeback (and perhaps pay your legal bills) if you position and package yourself in print as a type of anti-hero. There's glam in that which makes it a compelling read. "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher did just that. She was an early adopter of self-publishing and did well. Both in book sales and in career mobility. Unfortunately, she couldn't turn her own life around. She repeated past mistakes.
Your takeaway from this is to calculate how much risk you want to take. If you are not a risk-taker or your profession demands a low profile that is Mr. Clean, the anti-hero meme is not an option.