One of the most rewarding parts of sharing your memories and stories is those moments when the big picture comes alive. When you see in someone’s reaction that you connected. Writing with your heart on your sleeve increases the likelihood of that happening.
The memory collector has a different role than the average narrator. You’re part of the story. You add context. When you expose your more vulnerable side, you allow readers to see the world through your glasses.
It comes down to building trust with your readers—your loved ones. The better they know you, the more they will trust your vision—your filter—of the stories you’re telling. More importantly, writing with your heart on your sleeve helps form that palpable the connection with your readers.
When we ponder revealing more and more about ourselves, we usually think along the lines of “What will people think?” As we write, we anticipate some level of judgment from our peers and loved ones.
Maybe that’s the wrong way to think about it.
Perhaps a better question is “What will we miss if we’re not truly honest and forthright?”
Allowing your loved ones—or even readers that are total strangers to you—to see your more vulnerable side allows your stories to resonate more deeply with them. What you might miss is an opportunity to connect. And the rewards for making those connections outweigh the emotional risk of writing with your heart on your sleeve.
Case Study for Writing with Your Heart on Your Sleeve
I recently ran across Author Amy Weaver’s post Fun and Random Things about Me.
I was expecting it to be along the lines of our Things You Might not Know about Me. In many ways it was. What I didn’t expect, however, was how I would feel about Amy Weaver when I was done reading. It wasn’t simply that I suddenly knew fun and random things about an author I’d never met. What I felt instead was a connection. (I’ll wait, if you want to take a quick read.)
I wished I were her friend. In fact, I tweeted that to her. That yearning didn’t come from a place of wanting to know someone who is perfect. (And that’s actually a compliment, Amy.)
Her honesty struck a chord within me. She took “writing with your heart on your sleeve” to an I’ll-tear-off-all-my-scabs-so-you-can-see-what-color-I-bleed” art form. I admit, it probably helps that she’s a great writer. She’s emotionally articulate. But there’s more to it than that. (Again, Amy, I mean that in the best possible way.) She’s someone I can relate to, even though I can’t drive more than one hour without having to pee or take a nap.
The persona she presents is authentic. Any story she narrates will come from a very human, very relatable standpoint.
Instead of worrying about what others will think, focus on connecting with your loved ones. Challenge yourself to put a part of yourself on the page, even when you’re telling other people’s stories.
Plus, I’d love to know what you’re thinking. When have you connected with someone because of their honesty? Have you read stories that mattered more because of the emotions they contained?