How Vulnerability Can Help Make Your Art Writing Shine,
and Your Creative Dreams Come True
Post 3 in our Writing For Artists Series.
Audio Option: To hear this article read by the author, click below.
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Want 3 signs that tell you you’re well on our way to achieving a creative dream goal?
Great. Let’s start with a biggie.
Sign 1. You’re Terrified
“If you feel confident one day and terrified the next, it means you are pushing outside your comfort zone,” said Antrese Wood, artist and founder of the Savvy Painter Podcast. “It’s not an easy place to sit in, but it’s exactly where you want to be.”
Normally, art making strengthens our sense of self-worth.
But the odd thing is sometimes when we’re especially brave in our art practice and stumble upon something big— we often go through a period of terror and insecurity.
It’s then we have to ask ourselves:
“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” —Dr. Brené Brown
Sign 2. You Accept More Imperfection
Growing artists allow for things to get messy. They care about the opinions of others less and less.
They accept that their work can be good and far from perfect, at the same time.
Growing artists come to understand that growing their art requires befriending vulnerability.
Michael Shook (my chamber music singing/gardener/ carpenter friend) reminded me about the merits of vulnerability the other day when he said:
“Obviously, when we create anything – a poem, a garden, an omelet, a performance – we reveal ourselves, and become vulnerable in that revealing.
This occurs no matter if the work is crap, or sublime.
So I tell myself, when rehearsing for a performance, to do the work as conscientiously and as diligently as possible.
I accept it will be flawed, or odd, or “off” in some way, at some moment.
But I further accept that it’s part of the performance, and is not only O.K., but in some weird way… it’s necessary.
Because it embodies the vulnerability that is essential to being human.”
“It is only by accepting that imperfection, that vulnerability, and being O.K. with it, that I have any chance of coming close to what I am capable of, in any endeavour.”
Sign 3. You Notice People Are Actually Responding To Your “Weird” Idea
The crazy thing is, when you show your 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 climb up on your strange, sparkly bandwagon to see what the heck you are up to.
Vulnerability and Writing
If you want to have readers be intrigued by your art writing, let some vulnerability into your web copy. Here’s one technique to get beautiful ideas out of your brain and on the page.
Step 1. Call on Your Inner Hippie
Put great music on and scribble everything you feel about the subject down with accompanying side doodles or collaged images.
If you’re a visual thinker don’t fight it. Work it.
Feel free 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.
Grab some colored pencils and open the flood gates.
A gem of an idea, that is true for you will be flushed out in the deluge of words and images.
Step 2. Call on Your Inner Editor
Let it sit for a day, then change hats. Summon up your inner editor to wade through the verdant mess you’ve made. Get out a highlighter.
Cruelly cross out 90% of your ramblings. Circle, rescue and type up the one or two shiny bits you think make the grade.
Then buff it up by shortening your sentences. Read it out loud. Read it to a friend. Comb through again.
The final product may be a very inviting and effective paragraph you can use in your promotional material for years.
Need some proof that vulnerable writing garners results and respect?
Meet A Super Nova of the Bloggersphere
The guy in the photo is Jon Morrow, the prosperous entrepreneur, skilled writer and the founder of Smartblogger.
One day Jon Morrow wrote a little guest post for Problogger.com that would become one of the most visited posts on the web today.
It’s estimated over a million people have read “How to Quit Your Job.”
After publication it landed Morrow over 9,000 enrollees in his guest blogging course and who knows how many blog subscribers over time.
The title of the post may sound too glitzy for you. Maybe you think, ‘Not up my alley.’
I get that.
The reason I think you should go on over and read his short article anyway, is this:
The post inspires folks to follow their creative dreams.
But it does so only after the author reveals intimate, moving, surprising details of his own life.
It’s kick-ass motivational writing.
Morrow is a risk taker who invites people to rifle through his underwear drawer on a weekly basis, with impressive results.
He 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 on the creative stage.
“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”
― Eric Micha’el Leventhal
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?
Share your thoughts in the comments please!
As always thanks for visiting and reading.