Authenticity and the Discomfort of Vulnerability

It’s taken me a while to finally sit down and write this blog today. This has become a common theme for me lately–always, really, but especially lately–this procrastination and dread around writing, whether it be blogs or my fiction. Procrastination is something I’m not yet graceful in dealing with as someone who has goals, deadlines, and commitments I’ve made to myself. It’s uncomfortable to watch the time tick by and frustrating as I fight the internal battle, yet again, between what I want to be accomplishing and what I’m emotionally prepared to face.

As time has gone on, my relationship with my writing, and especially my blog, has evolved. Those of you who have hung around here for very long have probably noticed the shift. As I’ve come to understand myself better, and integrate my writing further into my identity, I dig deeper and deeper each time I come to the page. And frankly, that makes coming to the page a whole hell of a lot harder. It’s emotionally and spiritually taxing to scoop out your insides and put them out there for all to see, day after day after day.

As writers, we put the most fragile parts of ourselves out there for public commentary.

I’m not as forgiving of myself about my avoidance tactics as I’d like to be, but when I step back and understand the energy and courage it takes to do this, it’s really no wonder I would rather vacuum than sit down to write. In a way, it’s like we’ve all signed up for daily therapy on stage in a crowded theater full of strangers. Who wouldn’t dread–or run screaming–from that?

The Fears Writers Face

The truth is, I bring a lot of fears to the page. We all do. I don’t know what your fears are, but here are some of mine:

That I won’t get it “right”…whatever “right” means. I fear that I won’t be able to pinpoint exactly what I’m trying to say or that it will come out clunky and rambling and I will be faced with my own inadequacies in craft and communication. I have enough experience in writing first drafts to know that the fear is mostly justified, though thankfully I also know that I’m pretty good at getting where I want to go eventually.

With blogging especially, I fear not having the best or most concrete advice to offer. I think we all experience the phenomenon of “the older I get, the less I know.” Being that I get a little older and wiser every day, I become a little more unsure of my ability to be of service to those looking for guidance all the time. And yet, I feel called and compelled to pass on all that I learn because it makes me better, and it gives me meaning to feel the sparkle of possibility light up inside someone who was losing hope.

I fear that others won’t be gentle with my vulnerability–that they will shatter it without care, or worse, with intent. And because I love humanity so deeply and whole–heartedly, I fear this hurt will run deeper than just my writing life.

And I worry that there’s no point in saying (writing) any of this at all, because everything I feel compelled to say has already been said a thousand times by people who have said it better, with more authority, and more impressive credentials than I. But if I don’t say it–if I don’t spend my life trying to decipher the meaning of art and a creative existence–how could I drag myself out of bed another day? How could I ever feel fulfilled?

I realize now, it isn’t the writing that’s hard. It’s facing all of these fears and more every time we sit down with our blank pages that makes the task feel impossible, that makes us dread the daily act of cutting into the vein, that makes us avoid it.

Every time we sit to write, we are vulnerable–to others, but maybe more painfully, to ourselves.

Others can see, and maybe even point out our faults, but then they will go on about their lives, leaving us mostly or completely forgotten behind them. We are the ones who have to witness our humanity day in and day out…especially when we write.

Can We Eliminate These Fears?

The question I’ve been asking myself is: how do we overcome these fears and the vulnerability of them? How do we override these emotions that impede our productivity to make writing more of a natural, easy experience that doesn’t require so much willpower? I’ve been asking myself this question for years–since I first started writing, and in all this time, I haven’t come up with an answer because I don’t think there is one–not if you’re tapping into that authentic truth inside yourself.

This discomfort IS the writing.

It may not be the act of putting words on the page, but it is as much a part of the process as crafting beautiful sentences and plotting gripping storylines. It’s our own call to action, forcing us to put on our brave faces, puff out our chests, and wield our swords so that when we do get to the page, we are raw and we are ready.

When I sat down to write this post, I thought long and hard about writing some “quick tips” for you this month. I could dash out some author website checklists or share some behind the scenes insights about publication (which I’ll probably do at some point, when I’m not using it as a means of avoidance)–they are much quicker and require less effort to write. But then I wouldn’t have been honoring where I’m currently at in my writing life, who I’ve become, and who I am becoming. And because I’ve been receiving emails and comments lately thanking me for being open and honest about our struggles, I know I wouldn’t have been honoring you.

My question to you is: Are you honoring yourself? Are you honoring your own creative work? Are you bringing your authenticity?

It may be uncomfortable, painful, scary, but that’s what makes us artists. That’s what the world is counting on us to offer, and what it needs now more than ever.

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women’s fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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