I talk a lot about digging deeper in the writing process and putting more of our true selves on the page. It occurred to me about halfway through my second post on the subject that at some point I was going to have to address how to protect oneself in light of all that truth talking and self exposing. But I was okay with that because I’d just embarked on my own journey to discover that very thing! I was absolutely certain that I’d be back here in a few months with Seven Tips for Self Protection, or Five Key Ways For Writers to Protect Their Emotional Selves. No lie—the working title for this post for the last few months has been Shields Up! because I was certain I would come back here with answers on how to shield oneself.
Well, Dear Reader, I was wrong. Sadly and horribly wrong.
The truth, I have discovered, is much more complex than that.
As writers, we are utterly exposed the moment we put pen to paper. Which is probably why even considering writing can be an act of tremendous courage.
All of that is bad enough, but when we’re diving deeper and deeper to make our stories more authentically our own, when we commit to trying for a creative home run rather than just getting to first base, it is inevitable that we will have more invested in our books—more heart, more soul, more blood, sweat, tears and lamentations.
And if you think that it’s scary to intentionally put more and more of yourself on the page, to become more and more vulnerable, you’re right.
For some, it will never be a problem—they were born with a core sense of self and confidence that makes others weep with envy. But for the rest of us, those for whom this is a struggle, those for whom this is a Great Barrier of Fear, here’s the kicker: part of the journey of creation is about learning how to get comfortable getting naked. It’s about how we learn to step out of and away from everyone else’s expectations and assumptions and be our own selves, proudly and comfortably, warts, quirks, foibles, and all.
Maybe, maybe that’s even the reason some of us are drawn to creative pursuits in the first place—because that journey will force us to grow for our art in ways we would be hard pressed to grow without it.
So when you are that exposed on the page, that fully committed to your work and your vision, how do you protect yourself from the inevitable negative reviews and reader reactions? Let alone keep from feeling as if you are walking around naked while everyone else is garbed in heavy layers of thick rhino hide or steel plate.
The answer? [Read more…]