I was afraid to walk on that stage and show the audience my kitchen-table self. — Brené Brown
At the beginning of 2015, I resolved to write 10 minutes per day. I use a pen and paper, set a timer, and I write whatever thoughts pop into my head. For the first three months of the year, I wrote in my notebook and rarely published the free writes: they were raw, rough, misspelled, unpunctuated; they wandered, had no story, were diary writing, exposition, or stream of consciousness. In other words, they were naked, and there was no way I was going to share them.
I felt strange doing so much writing and so little blogging, though. For the first time in almost four years, my blog went dormant. So on a whim one day, I asked my you, my readers, for prompts. And you delivered. You delivered so generously, in fact, that I felt compelled to publish whatever I wrote from the prompts you provided.
During the month of April, I pulled a prompt each day, set a timer for ten minutes, wrote, and published. And it was scary, y’all. I published raw thought, typos, meandering nonsense. I put the inner workings of my brain out into the world, and it made me feel really vulnerable. My self-talk was terrible – “Nobody’s going to want to read this,” “Who cares what I think about rocks?”, “This is boring.”
I know as a writer you are always supposed to consider the reader. In this case, though, I had to put that consideration aside or it would have gotten in the way. I would have self-edited during the free writing portion; I would have never pressed Publish. I had to pretend like nobody was reading.
And writing like nobody is reading was liberating. I wrote fiction, y’all. I’ve never written fiction. I read fiction — fiction is my everything — but I’ve always shied away from writing fiction because I didn’t know how. I don’t have stories inside of me. I don’t make stuff up. I’m a terrible liar, I’m not creative or innovative, I can’t make something from nothing.
Those were the things I told myself before this experiment.
Now, I know what it feels like to have a narrative come out that I didn’t know was there. I know now what authors mean when they say, “I don’t know what happens next,” or, “I had nothing to do with it – the story wrote itself.” It only happened a couple of times during the month, but those couple of times were worth all of the fear, all of the vulnerability, all of the nakedness that came with taking this project on.
Quote from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. See also her TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability.