Vulnerability is incredibly powerful. It is also super scary.
As authors, we need to be vulnerable. And when we start off, especially if we write a memoir, we use writing for healing. We bare our souls on the page. But then, we feel naked and horribly vulnerable. We start having doubts about writing that book where we share our life experience, including what we might still feel shame around. We back track on our book because it is too much. Don’t worry if you have, that’s perfectly natural.
Connection with our readers is what we want and vulnerability is an incredible way to connect. But as writers we need to learn where the balance is between not enough vulnerability (we act as superheroes and alienate our readers) and too much vulnerability (that’s called flood lighting). Let me give you an example from a completely different area. Business.
When you read a blog about a coach that makes five figures a month, whose profile picture is so perfect she could be on the cover of Elle and who boasts about how you can do the same with her thousand pounds programme, how does that make you feel? If you are anything like me, you will run in the opposite direction. Not enough connection. Not enough vulnerability.
If on the other hand you read a blog about another coach who constantly shares her mistakes and all you feel is shame and embarrassment for that coach, you are not likely to want to work with her either.
The right level is in between. Someone who clearly knows what they are talking about but who also shares her epic fails. It makes her feel human. It makes her feel more relatable to you. After all, you might not feel like a success so someone too successful will put you off. But someone who shares how it took three failures to succeed and who shares with you her learning curve so you can bypass what she had to go through will probably win your attention.
Vulnerable posts and posts about epic fails always get more engagement than the perfect posts.
So where is the balance? I made a little chart that sums it up.
You want to be in the learning zone. Just a little out of your comfort zone but not in your terror zone. How will you know? Tune in to your body. When you write about something that happened to you, make sure you are completely in your body and not in your head. (Note: writers tend to spend far too much time in their heads so that’s another practice that we will engage in, during the masterclass). Take a deep breath and check how you feel. Do you feel sick in the stomach? Then you have gone too far. If you feel no discomfort, then perhaps you haven’t been vulnerable enough.
Does this help?
Write your reaction in the comments. I would love to know what you think.
And if you are ready to take your writing to the next level, why not sign up for my six month masterclass. You can find out more about it here.
To your writing,
(c) Ange de Lumiere 2017