The act of writing, like any form of creativity, can be a truly nerve-racking thing …
I write a lot as part of my day job working in marketing and communications … press releases, websites, marketing campaigns, or advert copy? No problem!
But until I began this blog, I had never really written anything very personal and made it very public before.
And let me tell you that it is a totally different and less comfortable thing! … Because what if people don’t think what I write is very good, or just don’t like what I have to say?
People often say you should write about whatever you know, but for a long time I worried that what I ‘knew’ was just too unremarkable and ordinary to share.
And I wonder many of us actually do this to ourselves; how often so we self-sensor and filter and hold our stories back, because we doubt that our story is worth telling?
But eventually I started to write in this space anyway, because it seemed like a good practice for me to cultivate as a way to express and process my feelings.
And before long, this seed of an idea formed in my mind about stretching myself a bit further in the writing discipline, by publishing a blog every single day for an entire year of my life. (You can find the results at Project 365…!)
But I have to admit that when I first launched out into this year long challenge, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough material to fill a whole month, let alone a whole year!
Still, I persisted because I figured that even if I was the only one who ever read any of it, it would at least be a good way to improve my craft…
As it turned out I needn’t have worried though, because it turned out that all of those ordinary, everyday experiences I was blogging about were exactly what I should have been writing. Because even though I never once promoted it anywhere, people gradually started following my writing journey …
And I have since joined hopewriters.com and exploring how to begin writing my first full book! There, I said it out loud … !
But surprisingly, the single biggest lesson I learned during that year was that the most important tool I can employ as a writer is simply writing with vulnerability.
And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy thing to do at first. I’m really not someone who likes to spill my heart out to anyone and I don’t really like public displays of emotion either. It goes against all my natural human instincts to want to protect myself and to appear capable and strong.
But be it writing, music, painting, acting, photography, or something else entirely, I think that almost all the best art reflects the heart of the artist laid bare.
So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my blog extracts on my personal fears and hangs ups, miscarriages and infertility battles, and relationship struggles, had the greatest resonance and most feedback over that year.
Because these were the blogs where I put myself most ‘out there’ in my writing by far. They were open, honest, and raw.
Brene Brown, acclaimed research professor and writer, who’s lecturer on the power of vulnerability is one of the top five watched TED Talks of all time, simply put it like this:
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together”
In other words, our vulnerability expressed through any form of art at all, is strength not weakness, because it’s the thing that connects us to each other.
The truth is that it always requires courage to choose to share parts of your story with others – especially the messy, imperfect parts.
But I think that this world desperate craves greater authenticity and vulnerability; people who aren’t afraid to peel back the mask and to let their brokenness show.
Because in found that it gives permission for others to let the pretence slide too, and to sigh a deep, ‘phew, me too!’
In fact, whether it’s writing a book or a blog post or song, pr whether it’s painting or photography or film-making; whatever your craft might be, I think that the best art is almost always very personal and reflects a part of the artist’s own story.
And maybe you’re not a writer or a story-teller in the most traditional sense of the word, but know that you still have a story to tell. And that your story really matters.
Because as you step out and find the courage to share it, it gives others permission to find their own voice too.
And it may just be the story of an ordinary and fairly unremarkable life like mine, but it is not actually just ordinary or unremarkable at all.
Because however small or insignificant it might seem – never, ever doubt that your story is powerful and holds the keys to healing for others,