The Key to Unlocking Your Writing Potential

Today’s guest post is by Jason Binder.

We as humans love to be private. We don’t want the world around us to know what is going on in our lives. We keep our deepest, darkest secrets to ourselves. The problem is, this can eat at us. And eat at us to our very core, in fact.

While we all should have some level of privacy in our lives and for the well-being of our families, we often want to conceal our shortcomings, inadequacies, and mishaps from others. If we have no dark secrets to hide, then we should be less prone to live in the dark.

What if in our lives, in our interactions with other people, and even in our writing, we stepped out from the darkness and stepped into the land of vulnerability? In looking at synonyms for the word vulnerable, “defenselessness” is one word that pops up. This surely is not the context that I am speaking of here, and, truth is, we are more defenseless when we seek to hide in the dark and feel we need to run away from things that we are looking to cover up.

Another synonym for vulnerable is “openness.” What if we were more open—open with others and open with ourselves?

Are we being truthful and brutally honest with ourselves, or are we simply throwing the messy parts and pieces under the proverbial rug?

Death to Disguises

Well, maybe it’s just me. Having been through a long four- year health battle ultimately leading to cancer, and recently the loss of a son, I understand that we have no time to waste in this life. Therefore, I have resolved to live no other way than to be vulnerable. All of us are broken in some regard, but there is beauty in not hiding this reality.

See, all too often we put a mask over our face in hopes that others won’t find out who we really are. We cover up the brokenness in order to put on a façade that we have it all together.

Do you have it all together? Speaking for myself, I certainly do not! And if you didn’t realize it, that question was rhetorical.

But what if we took the mask off and shattered it into a million pieces? What if we came running out of our hiding places like an Olympic sprinter coming off the starting block, to allow our deepest wounds to be exposed? What if we put the disguise in the back of the closet, never to be taken out again?

Now, what if our writing looked like this? Isn’t there appeal when we see someone who holds nothing back and is unafraid to share their hurts with us? This exudes a certain confidence and denies a need for validation from others.

What if we were more fearless with the pen and bolder in our prose? Maybe these are things that you never previously pondered. Have you been going through the motions of your latest writing assignment, simply trying to meet your word-count requirement, or are you putting your heart and soul—your blood, sweat, and tears—on the line? Are you going merely for the completion of a project, or are you going for broke?

What if this was the last opportunity you had to write—Is this how you would want to be remembered? Can you honestly say, “I gave it everything I had and held nothing back?”

Nothing to Hide

I believe that Nancy Anderson can honestly say that she held nothing back. In her recent radio interview on In the Market with Janet Parshall, Nancy spoke of her previous infidelity in her marriage. What struck me was her ability to be vulnerable and open, laying it all on the line. She cited details of how this work-romance began. How they were at a meeting and he bumped her leg inadvertently, and how her absence of an objection equaled an invitation. She told how the relationship further commenced, and persisted.

It would’ve been well enough for her to simply state, “I had an affair, but now my marriage is good.” Instead, she showed extreme bravery and courage to open herself up to listeners she didn’t know and who didn’t know her either.

There was something genuine and sincere about the transparency and vulnerability that was on display. At moments it was almost uncomfortable, and one could think, “Should she really be sharing all of this with the public and strangers she doesn’t even know?”

This is a woman who had no regard for whether people knew of the mistakes she had made, nor did she care if they would judge her transgressions. Her concern was that someone listening might be going through what she went through, and she wanted to help and encourage them.

Isn’t this how our lives should be lived: unafraid, unashamed, and unmasked? As a matter of fact, isn’t this how our writing should look?

As thoughts and words flow from our minds and into a computer screen, are we concerned with helping and encouraging others, despite how it may come across?

All this leads us to the question of whether showing vulnerability will enhance our writing style and the power of our story or will leave us in the same doldrums in which we began.

Yes, life is way too short to not go for the gusto every time our pen hits paper or our fingertips hit the keyboard. Be bold, my friends. Let go of your fears and just let go—and as you let go, allow the juices of vulnerability to flow.

Just like Nancy, you have nothing to hide. Does your audience receive that vulnerability from you? Despite who is reading, allow the disguise to fall to the ground and smile for the photo . . . scars and all. Trust me—your readers will thank you for it, and you won’t regret it.

Vulnerability: a word that we often shy away from, but if you embrace it, you may just find that it could be one of the greatest keys to unlocking your writing potential.

Jason Binder resides in South Florida with his wife and kids. Besides being passionate about his roles of husband and father, Jason also has a great passion for writing. You can connect with him on Facebook or via email.


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  1. This message comes at a perfect time in the writing of my historical fiction. I have been worried about making an historical character look bad because he is revered by many. But the truth is, he wasn’t perfect as we are all imperfect. He was human. And his humanity made someone else feel betrayed. But haven’t we all been betrayed at one time or another? I’m thinking now that I may push my boundaries a little more and take my story the extra mile. Thanks for sharing this. You’ve made me look a little deeper into where I take my story.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, and also replying Gillian. Yes, none of us are why try to put on a front like we are?! I’m glad to see that this encouraged you in how deep to show the vulnerabilities and struggles in your character. As I stated, I believe there is a true sincerity in showing the “human side” of even those we revere, as this can be admirable in a sense. Wishing you the best w/ your historical fiction.

  2. Please allow me to offer my condolences on the death of your son, Jason. My prayers are with you at this time and I hope every success on your cancer struggle.

    Sir, absolutely none of us are perfect. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. You make some excellent points here. What seems to happen for me is that my protagonists are trundling along with their lives and one reader said, and here’s the quote; ‘Sue, this is a very, very deep write..I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, it felt so personal to you, as if you had been the one affected by all this hurt and lingering pain…You have written this with exceptional detail, it is absolutely brilliant, a masterpiece of unique beauty.’
    She was not wrong about the ‘personal’ aspect – the rest I was not sure about but that is just an aside from the topic.
    What took me so long to pick up my writing again was the feeling that within the fiction was almost too much truth. Then it was a case of ‘Bugger this I’ll do it anyway’.
    Thanks for your article – most timely.

    1. Thanks Sue. Having the reader acknowledge our personal aspects behind our writing is always something we should strive for. Continue to speak truth and never be unashamed of it- that’s where they see the “vulnerable” side of things, and good attitude in that.

  4. I’ve printed a copy of your post to carry around with me, and made a promise to re-read each time I sit down to write. Thank you for sharing this – it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

    1. Awesome Chrissie! I’m glad this post was an encouragement to best to you in your future writing.

  5. It’s so uncanny! I am now approaching my second year of writing my novel, which is what in europe is called “autofiction”, a sort of novelized autobiography. It is about my life, and is as personal as can be. And now I read your post. I have been mortally afraid of going ahead with it, telling things which are very painful, that I suspect society frowns upon (or certainly mocks), but I have received encouragement recently from unknown people, which gives me more strength to keep at it. It is exhausting, I can’t write much each day, as it takes a physical and spiritual toll, and when the moment comes to give it to the world, well, I suspect I will suffer. But I think that it can give visibility to some problems which nobody talks about, maybe provide some comfort to people experiencing similar things. And I enjoy doing it, examining my life, finding the way to express things with as much aesthetic beauty as I am capable of. My shortcomings as an author are frustrating at times, but I can do what I can do, and that’s a success in itself. What you said about being honest means being superconfident has made my day! Greetings from Barcelona.

    1. That’s a fantastic mentality to have Jordi! Never allow the world to dictate your words nor discourage you writing what you want to say, and what is on your heart. Just be yourself, do the best you can, and give it all you have to give..and continue to speak on topics others shy away from, with the primary motive of helping people who are experiencing similar issues. That can be greatly fulfilling in life, and will be blessed. Continue to persevere with your novel, despite what opposition may come!

  6. Jason, my condolences for the death of your son and my hope that your long-time illness and cancer recovery is going well. I’m currently undergoing radiation treatments for breast cancer for which I had surgery January 31. I am fortunate to have been spared chemotherapy, for which I’m grateful. Thank you for this timely post. My writing is timid and polite. I don’t want to wound my characters too profoundly in my fiction writing, and I don’t want to offend people with my fiction or nonfiction writing. Sometimes, honesty is hard to hear, but it’s what’s needed to propel me or my reader into a deeper exploration of Self. I’m also afraid of judgment by other people, afraid my vulnerability will harm me in some way. It’s hiding that hurts me as you pointed out. This post has given me pause to rethink my introspection and my writing. Again, thank you for your insightful article. I wish you the best going forward. May we all write openly and honestly.

    1. Hello Billie, thank you firstly for your condolences. I too had radiation treatments, which have left, although not major, some long-term side effects. What I have learned is that as long as we’re honest and speak truth we are on the right side of things. Our concern should not be so much with offending, judgment from others, etc., as long as what you are saying is meshed w/ honesty / truth. For me, the more I understand where my worth and value as a person comes from, those fears from others are slowly released. Seek to write with boldness, “shying” away from timidity, and never be afraid that your vulnerability may draw harm from others. That fear may be what holds you back from impacting the life of another. My best to you with your treatments and your cancer, as well as expressing vulnerability without reservation in your writing. *just be yourself..without worrying so much about what others may think*

  7. Vulnerability. That’s a scary word. Makes me kind of wince & cringe & avoid the subject all together. I grew up thinking the “v” word was anything but being open. Vulnerability meant you were weak & looking for attention. I’ll be damned if anyone viewed me as a weak minded crybaby that throws her own pity party! I am woman! Hear me roar not whimper! Vulnerable schmulnerable!
    I know. It’s a horrible way to be taught & molded into believing the meaning of that “v” word. Reading this post was something I needed to consider in my novice writing journey. Being openly unfiltered to those that read my posts makes me so thankful for having pen names. I guess I have my limits on openness. Would it still be considered vulnerable with using pen names? I guess not though. I wouldn’t be ready. My real name with my real feelings??
    Wow. I’ve got something to keep me up all night. Exposing my true colors & being ok with it. Dang.

    1. Thank you, Candy, for sharing your vulnerability here in this comment! The issue with pen names is multifaceted. Writers have various reasons for using a pen name. Some writers don’t want to step into trouble with their memoir because of the painful things they share. Others, like me, use pen names becuase of writing in different genres and marketing to very different audiences. I would say we should all do what we need to do to feel safe and protect our feelings when and where needed. Putting our work out into the world will always draw criticism and rejection, whether it’s writing or art or music. In some ways we have to have a hard shell so we don’t allow every hurtful thing said to damage us. But good helpful criticism and feedback is something to value and appreciate.

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