The Secret to Telling Your Story: Embrace Vulnerability

A good story occurs when an author travels in search of truths that otherwise go untold.

Grant Faulkner
Nov 12, 2018 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post

When we’re afraid of things, we tend to project worst-case scenarios.

At its heart, performance anxiety is about distrust. There’s the distrust of yourself — that you’ll forget what you have to say, or that you’re such a complete dolt you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. And then there’s the distrust — or fear — of others. When we’re afraid of things, we tend to project worst-case scenarios. The crowd becomes a cold and menacing beast in our minds. People don’t want to cheer you on; they want to crucify you.

A good story occurs when an author travels, or even plummets, into the depths of vulnerability

I sent stories to literary journals because only anonymous editors would read them — and their reactions didn’t matter as much to me. Even when a story of mine was published, I rarely gave it to friends and family, and I declined invitations to read in public. I like to write about the underbelly of life, the sordid moments and unspoken desires that lace through people’s consciousness, and I suppose I feared that people would make judgments of me based on such stories.

Art is fundamentally an act of exposure.

Telling such a story, however, is among the most challenging things a writer can do. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who studies shame and vulnerability, said that one-third of the people she interviewed could recall a “creativity scar,” a specific incident when they were told they weren’t talented as artists, musicians, writers, or singers. I think that figure is low. My guess is that everyone has a creativity scar of some sort. And the way that most people heal their scar is to close up. A stoic show of invulnerability can feel stronger than the “weakness” of openness.

Image for post
Image for post

National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo community on Medium.

Grant Faulkner

Written by

Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, co-founder of 100 Word Story, writer, tap dancer, alchemist, contortionist, numbskull, preacher.

National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo community on Medium. We share and support each other through November's madness and beyond. We welcome submissions about NaNoWriMo, fiction writing, and promoting novels.

Grant Faulkner

Written by

Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, co-founder of 100 Word Story, writer, tap dancer, alchemist, contortionist, numbskull, preacher.

National Novel Writing Month

The NaNoWriMo community on Medium. We share and support each other through November's madness and beyond. We welcome submissions about NaNoWriMo, fiction writing, and promoting novels.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store