The Vulnerability of Writing

“I saw your blog…” 

Those four simple words are sure to set my nerves on edge. My first thoughts usually are, what if they hated it? What if they judge me for what I wrote? Or even, what if they laugh at me? That’s the strange self-talk that goes through my head when the words I wrote sitting alone, get brought up in person.

Writing is an act of vulnerability. It requires me to open myself up to judgment, criticism, and others misinterpreting what I meant. In a conversation, I can gradually express myself while looking for positive affirmation from others, but in writing, I just have to put it out there!

So why continue to write? As a natural introvert, I would undoubtedly be more comfortable not sharing so publicly. But I believe discomfort provides the opportunity to gain a better understanding of myself and grow as an individual. 

That said, I have also found a few coping mechanisms to make it easier to take those first steps into discomfort.

Find a reason for sharing that doesn’t require external validation.
Most of us value external validation too highly. The lack of external recognition or one critical opinion can really knock our confidence. All my reasons for writing are for my own personal development, not for others, and that puts success or failure in my control.

Recognise positive, as well as negative feedback. 
I have a tendency to focus on negative feedback. I thought this was in a quest for improvement, but without recognising the positive equally, there’s a danger I will sabotage my own progress. I’ve received far more positive than negative feedback about this blog, and I’m sure you would experience the same. Ensure you recognise the positive equally, rather than getting too hung up on the negative.

Remember the value you are providing to those who may be silent.
The vast majority of those that read don’t comment, like, or respond. Most readers are passive, so it’s hard to know how valuable what we share is to them. The critics may be vocal, but there may be many more who silently find value in your work. 

Ultimately, everyone struggles with being vulnerable. We censor ourselves, talk around the point and keep people, experiences, and unsafe situations at arms’ length. We instinctively protect ourselves, and this act of protection can stunt our growth.

Choosing to be open and vulnerable is scary, but the value it can bring to yourself and others is immeasurable. Part of my journey is testing my ability to share my fear in this post. Part of your journey will be working through whatever issues come up for you. Just know that you are not alone. 

Be brave and share openly.

Two Weeks of Daily Blogging

Two weeks ago I wrote the first post on this blog. It was only 250 words but it took me hours! Since then I’ve managed to write nine more posts and over 3500 words.

But I didn’t start this blog for the numbers. This was an experiment to see if I could build a daily practice, learn to share vulnerably and improve my writing. So, what has the experience been like and what have I learned so far?

It’s been amazing to achieve something everyday.
Before I started writing daily I would have days that felt wasted, where I was unable to identify what I had achieved. A lot of the projects I work on take a long time before you see results but writing and publishing daily enables me to feel productive and recognise my achievements. Now, I can often achieve my first win before 9 am!

Unsurprisingly, it’s difficult to write everyday.
When I started this blog I set myself the goal of publishing five times a week. I wanted a couple of days to catch up if I fell behind and didn’t want this blog to be a full-time job! In my second week, I got very busy with work and it was hard to find the inspiration and energy to write. Ultimately even though I try to write every morning, I’m not always successful and it bleeds into other parts of the day. I’ve found I have to write when the idea comes, if I wait it’ll be gone!

There is more to write about than you think.
One of my biggest concerns was running out of things to write about in week two! This isn’t a problem, the bigger issue is picking what to write about! I currently have twenty-two post ideas in my drafts and almost every day come up with new ideas prompted by the situations I find myself in and the people I meet.

You can’t predict what people will be interested in.
My most read post so far was the one that took the least time and effort. The post I enjoyed writing most is one of the least read and the one I dislike most is one of the most popular. I think that suggests I can’t predict what people will be interested in reading right now, so I’m going to keep writing primarily for myself.

Finding a voice is going to take practice.
In some of my recent posts like, The Product Management Talent Gap or Leading with Facts over Opinions, I found myself writing from the perspective of a teacher. While this is one voice, I’m also trying to develop my voice as a learner by being transparent about what I don’t know and sharing my discoveries as I go. I expect finding this will take time, patience and lots of practice.

So, am I going to continue writing daily?

The answer is a resounding yes. It has been difficult at times, but I’ve learnt a lot already and identified a lot more I can learn in the future. Thank you for supporting me on the journey and for taking the time to read this far. Bring on the next few weeks!