One of the most heartwarming discussions I have ever had on this blog was when I asked, “Is writing with vulnerability a sign of low self-concept?” The comments from my readers were full of wisdom and insights.
I especially liked the way Shakira Dawud of DeliberateInk.com linked vulnerability and risk taking to humility. She said:
“When we show our vulnerability to others, they get a glimpse of how much we love what we’re doing, and how much we care that it be the best. They see that we don’t care how good they think we are—that we’re human, and we can be better. There’s something to admire in that kind of humility, I think.”
And my friend Beth Buelow over at The Introvert Entrepreneur felt that, on the contrary, vulnerability tells her that the writer has a good self concept. Beth said:
“IMHO, showing vulnerability is a sign of high self-esteem and confidence in one’s self. You know you’re opening yourself up to judgment, yet you know you can handle it. You’re secure in your experience and feelings. You’re grounded in your truth and are willing to share it with the world for mutual benefit. That makes thoughtful (not whiny) vulnerability an extremely powerful thing!”
So why, then, is it so hard to push that “publish” or “send” button? I think it might be because we are never totally happy with what we have produced. We want to it be good—no, we want it to be the best.
And we want it now.
Lessons in Risk Taking
This week, two of my friends inspired me to take a long, hard look at vulnerability and risk taking. In their courage, they are role models for all of us.
My first teacher: Joan Rough
Joan Rough, a memoir writer I met through Dan Blank’s online Author Platform class, took the brave step of sending the rough draft of her lovely story, “Me, Myself and Mom,” to her beta readers, of which I am one.
I have done this before—granted it was a series of chapters and not the whole book—so I know how those pesky gremlins can perch on the shoulder and whisper in the ear, “It’s not good enough! What made you ever think you could write?”
As writers, sometimes we set such high standards that it would be impossible for anyone to meet them. Joan described her feelings in a blog post called “Doubt” :
“As I sent the last of my first draft manuscripts out to my beta readers and heard the whooshing sound, telling me it was sent, I had second thoughts. ‘Oh my God, what have I done? I should have rewritten it again. Everyone will see how badly I write and how boring I can be. I should have written it for myself and forgotten the publishing part.’”
I call it Naked Writer Syndrome. We spend hours—days, months—at a time, just our brains and our manuscripts.
Just the two of us.
And the longer we stay in the cave, the harder it is to expose our manuscripts to the world and the more we freak out about the possible reactions of real people.
So my friend Joan offered a lesson in courage to me this week.
My second teacher: Kaarina Dillabough
In the same week, my friend Kaarina Dillabough from the Decide2Do blog stepped out of her comfort zone.
Not with writing fiction, which she has been doing for a while, but actually hitting publish for the first time.
Her beautiful story was called “The Winter of Her Life.”
When I congratulated her in the comments section, she said:
“Thanks so much. Although I thought I might throw up the moment I hit publish, I needed to take that first brave step and start writing what my heart yearns to write, without fear of ‘is it good enough?”.
These are the brave acts—Joan’s and Kaarina’s—that inspire us all. Not only to keep writing, but to share our stories with the world. I could not be any prouder of my two friends. It can only get easier from here on out.
What about you?
Are fears keeping you from showing your gifts to the world?
How do you fight the demons of doubt?