Recently, I started reading Daring Greatly by the shame and vulnerability researcher,Brené Brown. In her book, Brown explores what it means to be vulnerable, its significance in our lives as human beings seeking connection with others, and how to overcome the shame we often feel around vulnerability.
Her insight is particularly interesting in the context of writing where our work, by nature, is a catalogue of our vulnerabilities. From the historical novelist to the comedic blogger, writing explores the vulnerability of human nature and turns it into something relatable to read.
Vulnerability isn’t good or bad: It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.
– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
As Brown says in her quote above, to be vulnerable is to feel. When we open ourselves up to emotion, we accept that we cannot control what happens next while choosing to honor what we feel in each moment. Often it’s an emotion that prompts the writing of a poem, a short story, or an exploration of a specific memory as a child. As we share those emotions, whether we’re writing in the first person or through a character, we expose our innermost thoughts.
To write honestly and sincerely, and to then hand our work over to the faceless crowd of the internet, can be scary. It can also be extremely rewarding, as Michelle reminded us in her “Roundtable: The Scariest Post I Ever Published”.
As you approach your writing this week, take Brown’s quote to heart. What is vulnerability to you and how does it influence your writing? When you write, where do the words come from and how do you know if they’re true? Take the time to explore the nugget of truth, the sincerest version of you in your writing by asking, “Is this real for me? Is this my truth?”
- If there’s a post you’ve been sitting on, but are afraid to share, consider revisiting the why: why that post is important to you, and why you’re scared.
- If you read a post that took considerable courage to share, or simply spoke to you on a deep, human level, reach out to the author and let them know.
When we congratulate openness in others’ writing, we create a community in which we can all share our truest stories with one another.