Earlier this week, I came across an article which said, “The more you make yourself vulnerable, the more your story will resonate.” While that’s not really some big surprise, I have a feeling that quote is going to change the way I write—or at least the way I think about what I write. But what does that even mean? Does it mean that you have to divulge your deepest secrets in order to write a good story? Not hardly, but imagine how true and heartfelt your character would feel to the reader if you did. No, I think the real meaning behind that phrase is that whatever you’re writing, make it real and heartfelt.
If you’re writing about a character, let yourself be vulnerable in your understanding of their personality. Allow yourself to explore your characters and the world they live in. Do that, and when you put words down on the page, your readers will be able to live vicariously through them. Thinking back on some of my best work, it’s always the characters that I really understood that I go back to. Indeed, those stories did make me feel vulnerable, but I knew that I was putting something out there that people could actually connect with. When you do it right, it’s really one of the most amazing feelings.
Very recently, I published a blog post talking about my Children’s book, Earnest the Writing Mouse. It is currently being illustrated and the journey to get it where it is today has been a really amazing one. Earnest the Writing Mouse was a family endeavor from the start, as it was inspired by my younger cousin, Hannah. She was frustrated one day at 7 years old, because she couldn’t draw something she desperately wanted to. After telling her that all she needed to do was practice, she began to argue with me, insisting that she’d never get better. That led me to write about a little mouse who would stop at nothing to become a good writer and with hard work and determination, succeeded. Now more than 4 years later, Earnest the Writing Mouse is being illustrated by that same girl who told me she’d never get better at drawing. Just like the mouse in my story, her hard work and determination certainly paid off. If you want to read the whole story, it’s up on my blog.
Now I don’t feel as though the story of how Earnest the Writing Mouse came to be is particularly personal, although it has definitely been a personal journey. It was a journey that I wanted to share. Aside from Hannah, who I had just told a few days prior, nobody in our family actually knew how Earnest the Writing Mouse came to be until that blog post. I knew that it was a story I wanted to share with them and one they would love reading. This comes back to something we talk a lot about on the Uprising Review Podcast which is, write for someone.
I consider that blog post to be some of the best writing I have ever done. It’s not the story of how I wrote Earnest the Writing Mouse that made me particularly vulnerable, but it was the fact that I was actually writing the blog for Hannah’s parents. Up until that point, they had no idea that their daughter, the illustrator, was the one who inspired the book to begin with. While I didn’t feel particularly vulnerable writing that story, writing it for them? Most definitely.
I think the key takeaway here is to write with a purpose. It doesn’t really matter what that purpose is, as long as it’s something you can use to connect with the reader. And second, write to an audience—even if that audience is just yourself, it will make your writing that much more meaningful and that much more vulnerable.