How to Include Vulnerability in Your Art Writing
Post 3 in our Writing For Artists Series.
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Have you ever noticed when you show vulnerability in your art something strange happens?
On the right day, instead of throwing tomatoes at you, people begin to smile.
They come closer and even climb up on your strange, sparkly bandwagon to see what magical thing is going on up there.
The same holds true when you allow vulnerability into your art writing.
If you want to have readers be intrigued by your art writing, let some vulnerability into your web copy.
How? I will give you my favorite technique to get those beautiful, vulnerable ideas of yours out of your brain and on to the page in one minute.
But first, in case you have doubts that sharing aspects of the real you is a good idea for your art or writing business, I want you to meet someone.
Meet a Super Nova of the Bloggersphere Whose Writing Shines With Vulnerability
The guy in the photo is Jon Morrow. He’s a mega-prosperous entrepreneur, a skilled writer, and founder of Smartblogger.com.
One day Jon Morrow wrote a little guest post for Problogger.com that is one of most-successful-posts-ever-written.
It’s estimated well over a million people have read “How to Quit Your Job.”
But that’s not the half of it. After publication the post immediately landed Morrow over 9,000 enrollees in his blogging course and who knows how many blog subscribers over time.
The title of the post may sound too glitzy for you.
I get that.
Go on over and read it anyway if you need proof that letting readers in, can make you — not break you.
Yes, Morrow’s post puts readers’ butts in seats because his title offers what marketers call “a benefit statement.” He is, after all telling you he has the answer to your work problems.
The thing is, Morrow’s post keeps readers in those seats (and even has them eventually jumping up out of them to give Morrow a standing ovation.) And he has them cheering for an entirely different reason.
I argue “How To Quit Your Job” succeeds because its author took a chance and let his vulnerability be the star of that post.
Morrow delivers the benefit his title promises, but only as he also reveals intriguing, intimate details of how he ended up in a wheelchair and what he did afterward.
It’s kick-ass motivational writing.
It’s the kind of writing that makes you think it’s a fabulous idea to have people rifling through your underwear drawer on a weekly basis. 🙂
Morrow reminds me of the power that resides within every artist and writer.
We all have the power to inform and encourage others by having the guts to leap over our terror and share our vulnerability and hard-fought wisdom on some topic on the creative stage.
But how do we get the right words out?
Let’s look at a simple yet effective writing technique to help you attract your ideal readers and buyers — by being yourself.
“Write Drunk, Edit Sober” Vulnerable Writing Technique
Vulnerable Art Writing Step 1. Call on Your Inner Artist
First start with a very vague, rough idea of what you want to talk about and do a free-write on it.
Put great music on and scribble everything you think and feel about the subject down with accompanying side doodles or collaged images.
If you’re a visual thinker don’t fight it.
Grab some colored pencils and open the flood gates. Now is not the time to criticize or inhibit. Just let it out.
Don’t hesitate to literally connect written thoughts with pictures or arrows.
(To the right you can see one of my free writes with images on a chapter I was having a tough time with in my dissertation.)
A gem of an idea, that is true for you will be flushed out in the deluge of words and images.
Let it sit for a day, then change hats.
Vulnerable Art Writing Step 2. Call on Your Inner Editor
Second, summon up your inner editor to wade through the verdant mess you’ve made to find the gems amongst the wreckage.
Cruelly cross out 90% of your ramblings.
But keep a highlighter at the ready.
Be sure to circle, rescue, and type up the one or two or twenty shiny bits you think make the grade.
Read it out loud. Read it to a friend.
Now comb through again.
The final product may be a very inviting post or effective “about me” paragraph you can use in your promotional material for years.
Just think of this 2 step process as a version of the old writing adage:
“Write drunk, edit sober.”
The drunk bit is meant metaphorically.
Drinking and good writing don’t mix.
(Even Hemingway only went about the business of getting very drunk after his writing for the day was very done.)
I hope you give it a go. (The vulnerable writing, not the drinking.)
I doubt you’ll regret it.
In fact, once you see how people respond, you too may become kind of addicted to the scary yet sexy, soulful process of just being real and letting that beautiful heart of yours shine on the page.
Check out Brene Brown’s (researcher and storyteller) video on listening to shame (the gatekeeper of vulnerability.) In this clip, Brown mentions how shame, if left unchecked, can smother the dreams of men and women alike but in different ways.
What have you been terrified to let loose out there in the world that you know wants to fly?
How do you know when you’re close to something wonderful in your art or writing practice? What clues do you get?
Love to hear your comments below.
Liked this writing post?
Check out the other posts in the Charmed Studio’s Writing Help for Artists Series:
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As always, thanks for visiting and reading.