Sharing Anything Means Losing Everything

How vulnerable should your writing be?

Phoebe Kirke
Apr 6 · 3 min read
Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

Britney Spears said it best. There are only two types of people in the world: those who entertain and those who observe. As a writer, you fall into the first category. Therefore, how far should you go to engage your readers?

When you write, you make yourself vulnerable. I believe this comes with the process itself. To me, writing is a way to make sense of the world around us. It is a form of structuring and expressing our emotions. Understanding how language works and how beautiful writing can touch others is holding the key to opening the gate into society and human interaction. It’s words that connect people, and having the ability to tell stories derived from personal experience and having others understand, feel, and relate excites me. Basically, it comes down to writing about your vulnerabilities to signal others that other people face the same struggles.

“The best writing I’ve ever read, I always assume required some emotional fever. Because, like healing, writing is the ugliness within beauty and the beauty within ugliness.” — Brittany Chaffee

In her article, Why Vulnerability is a Writer’s Most Powerful Tool, Jane Harkness poignantly writes about the anxiousness of writing and publishing personal experiences online. Like her, I’d like to think that I have done some daring things in my life, such as attending an international female business summit in a foreign country. Furthermore, I didn’t know anyone who was attending. However, the anxiety I experience before I hit publish on any article surpasses other experiences by a wide margin. After all, strangers can read, enjoy, and judge my truth, and with that comes vulnerability.

Vulnerability needs boundaries

But to reveal anything can lead to losing everything. I mean by this that I am not convinced that writers should get very personal at all costs. It is said that excellent writing is tied to a unique experience. I’m not convinced of that.

Why would I reveal something about myself that isn’t central to the article or the point I am trying to bring across? Not only does it confuse my readers, but also it feels like I am trying too hard. And even if I had something that would be an excellent fit — if I don’t feel comfortable sharing a story, why push myself to do it anyway? For example, I can talk very well and intimately about my past relationships without feeling embarrassed in any way. But I have difficulties opening up when it comes to my experience as a woman of color. Meaning, just because I could do not mean I have to.

Second, sharing every little detail has the risk of alienating people or diluting the main point into subsets of different discussions. Who wants to know about every single one of your truths? To me, there is a stark difference between using vulnerability instead of being vulnerable.

Know how to entertain

After all, I believe the whole point is to become aware of one’s writing goals. In my opinion, a writer must be very self-aware, expressing good intentions, with no hopes and patience in his writing. This doesn’t mean to be fundamentally reticent about communicating or refraining from saying certain things. On the contrary, I think it’s necessary sometimes to say something that no one else is willing to say. But this requires a healthy awareness of boundaries.

After all, I believe it is excellent to hit “publish,” knowing that I feel comfortable with how and what I’ve shared. And hopefully, someone out there can relate and think: “Wow, I am not the only one who feels like this.”

Writers’ Blokke

The publication for writers and readers to create and read…

By Writers’ Blokke

Newsletter from your editor of Writers' Blokke Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Phoebe Kirke

Written by

Feminist, activist, sister, but above all, hurt. Writing is my path to living life to the fullest.

Writers’ Blokke

The publication for writers and readers to create and read amazing content

Phoebe Kirke

Written by

Feminist, activist, sister, but above all, hurt. Writing is my path to living life to the fullest.

Writers’ Blokke

The publication for writers and readers to create and read amazing content

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

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