By Jaci Gorrell, a professional writing student at Taylor University
As writers, sitting at a computer and typing a story feels as second-nature as breathing. But what about spilling our darkest demons on the page? Writing with vulnerability can be difficult, but in my experience, it’s always worth it. Here are four reasons you should get vulnerable with your words.
1. It’s better writing.
Have you ever churned out pages of unpunctuated word-vomit in a state of anger or depression? Have you ever gone back and reread said jibberish and realized it was actually brilliant?
The truth is, emotional writing is powerful, raw, and real. When you let yourself be honest about how you feel, the experience is visceral and moving for the reader. When you hold back, readers can tell. Writing vulnerably breeds a passionate message filled with life and purpose.
2. It’s cathartic.
Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about something until I’ve journaled about it. There is something about writing out what I feel that helps me clarify and assess the situation at hand, and I know I’m not alone in this.
Our writing isn’t a pillow into which we can scream our frustrations, but it is a space for honest reflection. And once the words have left our brains through our fingertips, they’re there on the page. We can process them, and see them, and let them go. Writing vulnerably is an outlet, and one that more writers should take advantage of.
3. Others identify with you.
Literature is a beautiful place through which we can travel, dream, and live many lives. It’s also a beautiful place to be seen. Have you ever read a book and thought, “That’s exactly how I feel”? You’re not alone.
When you write about your struggles, readers from all walks of life can turn to you and say, “Me too.” This means you have someone to walk with—someone who knows what you’ve been through and can offer her deepest empathy. Vulnerable writing connects people. It lets people know that they’re not alone, and that is more important than we could ever fathom.
4. Others learn from you.
I’ve never experienced OCD, Dissociative Identity Disorder, racial discrimination, or the loss of a loved one, but I’ve read novels about them. That doesn’t mean I’m an expert on any of those topics, but it does mean I’m one step closer to understanding.
When you write vulnerably, you shed light on topics that others are ignorant about. In turn, they get to walk a mile in your shoes and gain a better idea of your struggles.
Not everyone is ready to spill her heart onto the page—and that’s okay. What is important is that once you’re ready, be brave and take the leap. The world will be a better place because of it.