The Vulnerability in Writing

Writing is an activity that makes us vulnerable. Freewriting, especially, can lead us to putting down thoughts and feelings that we weren’t aware of (fully or even at all). And since these thoughts and feelings are now in writing, they can be found and read by other people. And yet many people keep journals—and have for many years; rather, people have written their private thoughts and feelings for hundreds of years, and some of these journals or diaries have been published. The Diary of Anne Frank is a good example. Granted, Anne Frank was planning to publish her diary after the war, and so had changed peoples’ names and some other facts. But she didn’t get to finish her revisions, so her diary affords us a different view that she may have wanted us to see.

These days, many people share their thoughts and feelings and reactions and gripes on blogs. Sometimes they share information that they don’t tell the people in their lives. And they worry that these people might discover this information. I find it interesting that we can share with strangers more than we can with many of the people in our lives; I’m no different. It’s an interesting comment on our culture which I won’t go into (now).

But it seems that there is something about putting our words on paper (or on the computer) which makes us vulnerable. And it’s not just personal information that makes us vulnerable; I’ve known students to feel uncomfortable sharing essays about all sorts of subjects. Perhaps we know that the way we put words together tells others more about us than we’d like. (Although some bloggers don’t seem to feel that they be telling their readers more than just what they say.) There’s something permanent about writing it down.

Many experienced writers are no different, as far as I know. It’s nerve-wracking to turn in a paper or a thesis chapter to a professor and wait, hoping for that ‘A’ (because anything else is disappointing) and comments that everything in it is perfect. While the ‘A’ may happen, the comment about perfection won’t! Part of that is simply due to all writers having different styles, different ways that they put words together and have a hard time not, uh, sharing that with others. In any case, professional writers must experience those same nerves when submitting a new article or book for publication.

But you’re not weird if you feel nervous when you turn in a paper or post a blog or trade an essay to do a peer review. Or go the the writing center in your school or ask a professional editor or proofreader to look over your work. It’s not easy to open ourselves to feedback, real or imaginary. But it’s part of the process of writing.

What is this blog?

A couple of months ago, I decided that I would add a blog to my business’ website. It would not be a blog about the ins and outs of my life, since I don’t want to burden my clients. ;-D Rather, it would be about writing—things I’ve learned, things I do when I write, trends I’ve noticed, etc. I brainstormed forty-four topics.

Writing overlaps with so many parts of our lives: all school subjects, going on errands (you don’t want to forget any!), e-mailing, text-messaging and IMing, and more. In fact, my sense is that more people write more on a daily basis than they have ever before. Writing is influenced by culture, as I’ll explore, both where we are from and what’s happening currently.

I’ll provide some tips to help you with your writing, but much of the time I’ll be making observations or asking questions that I don’t have the answers to. To which, in fact, there may be no definitive answers.

I hope we all enjoy this experiment.

Tags: Writing, Blogs, Anne Frank, Questions, Observations