Honesty in Writing and the Path to Greatness

by Kelly on January 6, 2009 · 33 comments

in Creativity. Writing. Blogging

honesty-in-writingHappy New Year!

2009 is actually here. Still can’t believe it myself. Usually I am very reflective at the end of the year, taking stock of my accomplishments, lamenting my procrastination, and busy setting goals for the next twelve months.

But this year I don’t really feel the need. I’m not sure why. In fact, until MusicMan asked me last week what my greatest accomplishment was for 2008,  I hadn’t given it a SINGLE thought. Most unlike me.

When I did reflect on my accomplishments, I am happy to say this blog was probably what I am most proud of in terms of my personal output last year.

Not only am I pleased I have kept SHE-POWER up for so long, but I have built a network of friends and readers I value very much.

Despite the fact that my novel didn’t get finished in 2008, SHE-POWER has been worth all the hours I have invested here because this site has freed up my writing in ways I never expected.

My goal to shake off my copy writer’s voice and get personal with my writing was achieved long ago, and I feel that my fiction writing is better than ever.

SHE-POWER has given me something I was really struggling with as a writer.

The ability to be HONEST with my words and emotions, regardless of how naked and exposed it makes me feel.

It’s easy to colour everything pretty or be cynical and darkly biting, but it’s a whole other story to delve deep and reveal who you really are, your fears, your neurotic imaginings, and what you have to say about life.

Whether you are revealing yourself in memoir or a personal blog post or through invented characters, truth in writing will make you vulnerable.

It will strip away your social veneer and the persona you have spent a whole life time cultivating. The ensuing vulnerability is uncomfortable and messy because whether we like to dwell on it or not, we are all a lot more contradictory and scared than we like to admit.

I don’t believe any of us are immune to this veneer, this mask we wear for others. We adopt it in childhood to protect our true selves and to put our experiences into nice, palatable tablets that we can swallow and forget about later.

Our veneer is how we make sense of the world and who we are. It’s a way we can make ourselves fit into a world wrought with chaos.

Whether your veneer is the ‘tough nut”, the “good girl”, the “rebel”, the “cruisy surfer dude” or even the “achiever” – if this neatly packaged persona is all you can reveal of yourself, both in life and in your writing, then you’re going to miss out on a lot of the depth and wonder of this world.

You’ll also never be the writer you could be.

The writer you deserve to be. A writer who strips themselves bare for the page, for the reader. Who shares their secrets, who breathes life into another through the intimate act of sharing words, thoughts, emotions and secrets.

If you can’t be honest in your writing you’ll never make your reader feel. They’ll never cry, laugh until it hurts, or see the world in a new way.

Honesty in writing makes you memorable. Unforgetable. And that’s the only goal I have as a writer.

So, thank you my SHE-POWER fans. By writing for you, I am slowly finding more of the truth which will one day make me a great writer.

For that, you have my undying gratitude. For that, 2008 was a GREAT YEAR!

Kelly


Flickr photo by Stephen Poff

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patricia 01.06.09 at 1:23 pm

I am tired today, because I have been to the airport and the train station and all my company has finally left and the bills had to be paid the the blog supported and I need to catch up on my writing and the tiredness brought out my worry about my blog.. my writing.
Until I came here and now I feel a huge lump of gratitude growing through me – I feel so good when I write on the blog and this past 8 months has been a huge learning curve for me – but I can just witness how my writing is improving ( when I am tired how my proofreading is deteriorating) and I can just put it out there . I was feeling like I did not put up some kind of startling post or humorous piece or start a new project ( though I started a new blog for my Honey this week) I just put pen to paper and wrote the next step to share…honestly and with truth…
BloggerDad did that today on FitToBlog too….people really fell into his piece…I got 15 views that is good…
My fatigue is still sending me to bed in a couple of minutes…I look forward to swimming in the morning and hope the January fools are not overcrowding all the lanes…I need that 36 laps to myself…but I feel ready to write as I read your words and know it will be with honesty..and that will be the best Thank you
You have honestly touched me today…I will use your post to inspire my writing tomorrow and skip thank you notes…

Patricia’s last blog post..Book Review: Transitions ~William Bridges

2 Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog 01.06.09 at 1:34 pm

Hi Kelly – So beautifully put. We do expose ourselves when we write honestly, and by doing so, our readers are more apt to connect with us. Although it’s not always an easy feat to accomplish, it’s when we dig deep we can not only help ourselves, but help those who read our writings, as well. Thank you for your honestly and your fabulous blog. Your work is a joy to read, Happy 2009!

Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..Join Twitter – It’s Easier Than You Think

3 Natural 01.06.09 at 2:25 pm

hey kelly, i can’t believe 2009 is here either.

on writing, you are vulnerable when you open up your heart. i dont share too much of my private life on MY blog, im more willing to share on someone elses blog…i am becoming more comfortable about opening up on my blog…i feel like i know the people there anyway, so it’s easier because i’m talking to “friends”

have a good 09!

Natural’s last blog post..You Know It’s Time To Give Up Blogging When….

4 Marelisa 01.06.09 at 2:57 pm

It’s funny that you had a goal to shake off your copy writer’s voice, I’m trying to shake off my lawyer voice when I write on my blog. And I completely agree that we all have a veneer, I guess that’s why role playing is so effective. We can forget who we’re “supposed” to be, at least for a little while. Happy 2009 Kelly.

As an aside, I sent Leo from zenhabits an email asking for a photograph to include in a squidoo lens I created about him. At the end of the email I intended to write “I hope you have a happy 2009!” After sending the email I realized that I had written “I hope I have a happy 2009!” :-)

Marelisa’s last blog post..10 Ways to Have a Zen-Like Day

5 Vered - MomGrind 01.06.09 at 3:17 pm

Indeed, beautifully put. Unlike you, I am not completely honest in my writing. I keep a lot of “me” to myself. I think you know that. I think most of my readers know that. I’m not sure of I’ll ever feel comfortable exposing it all. But I do know that I admire anyone who does. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with SHE-POWER.

6 cardiogirl 01.06.09 at 7:39 pm

Isn’t that interesting how our voices comes through our writings? Sometimes I wonder if I could pick my blogger friends from real life conversations.

I think it would be fun to talk to different blogger friends, who you feel you know pretty well, on the phone. (If you were on the phone you wouldn’t be distracted by hand gestures, what they look like, etc. It would mimic being on the internet.)

Then you would have the chance to talk (about generic subjects) to each person for five minutes.

After the time was up you’d have to decide who the blogger was based on their “voice” — their choices of words and how the phrased things.

Of these commenters, I only “know” Natural. And I think I could pick out her sense of humor after five sentences.

Happy 2009! I look forward to getting to know your voice Kelly.

I think

cardiogirl’s last blog post..The book of questions, Volume 23

7 cardiogirl 01.06.09 at 7:41 pm

Uh, don’t know why my commented ended with “I think”

So let’s finish that thought. “I think therefore I exercise and proudly wear Converse low tops.”

cardiogirl’s last blog post..The book of questions, Volume 23

8 MusicMan 01.06.09 at 8:40 pm

I wish I had a music website/blog that was as good as She Power.

I think this can be applied to any creative endeavour. Also in music, some people will perform for the sake of attention – but really you have to connect. In that way the musician gains more depth in what they ar doing.

9 Kelly 01.06.09 at 10:53 pm

@Patricia
I can feel your exhaustion in your comment, so thanks for taking the time to write me. Hope you got a good night’s rest Patricia and the writing tomorrow is indeed inspirational.

@Barbara
Thanks for the compliment, and I’m glad I can bring a little something to your day. Hope 2009 is a great year for you :)

@Natural
You know, I was more open and honest in my comments on other blogs for quite awhile before I applied that transparency here. Not sure why that is. maybe time and as you say making friends with your readers increases the comfort level so it’s easier to lay yourself bare.

Kelly

10 Kelly 01.06.09 at 11:04 pm

@Marelisa
That’s an interesting point about role playing. This makes me also think of another reason I like backpacking. No need for a veneer because you’re away from everyone who knows you and are so far out of your comfort zone, there’s no point in not being real. That’s funny about your email to Leo. I hope YOU have a great 2009 too.

@Vered
I’ve heard you say before you don’t really aspire to be a ‘writer’ per se, so there’s probably no need for you to work on exposing more of yourself on your blog. Momgrind is very successful the way it is and you have your own niche which people enjoy. In life though, I do think opening up and showing all sides of ourselves is very liberating and allows people to become that much closer to us. I recommend it to everybody. Hope 2009 is another successful year for you Vered. You’re a great friend :)

@Cardiogirl
Welcome to SHE-POWER. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I hope to see you here again. I write very much like I speak so I think if you read a few articles here you could easily pick me out in a conversation. Though if you wanted to hear my voice you can actually find it here:

http://letsliveforever.net/2008/12/bloggers-recording-project-has-arrived/

@MusicMan
Thanks for commenting baby, and you definitely connect when you play. xx

Kelly

11 Lance 01.06.09 at 11:22 pm

Hey Kelly,
Your post here today really hits upon something I, too, have come to believe very strongly in – honesty and openness. And I feel that very much here – it is what draws me back – how “real” you come across as. So, know that I see you as doing exactly what you desire to be doing here – being honest and authentic. And it all does make you unforgettable! You rock, Kelly!!

Lance’s last blog post..And The Word Is…

12 Evelyn Lim 01.07.09 at 12:04 am

I’ve not been writing since the year started. I’m still feeling the way around. But your post here is giving me the impetus to get moving again. Incidentally, I have just found out how much assistance my previous posts have been to a few readers, people whom I do not previously know of, in terms of emotional healing.

I’m looking forward to more authentic sharing from you on your blog. I love the way you write. Your openness has a definite appeal!! I wish you continued success with the growth of this site in the New Year ahead!

Evelyn Lim’s last blog post..Law of Attraction Blog Highlights 2008

13 Dot 01.07.09 at 12:34 am

Bravo! Your honesty is one of the reasosn I keep coming back to She-Power. I’ve been brutally honest in some of my posts about my life, and I did lose a few subscribers with each one, but I think of that as separating out my “true” audience from the ones who just don’t undersstand. Your post reminded me of this quotation:

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Dot’s last blog post..This and That

14 BC Doan 01.07.09 at 12:48 am

This is beautiful: “A writer who strips themselves bare for the page, for the reader. Who shares their secrets, who breathes life into another through the intimate act of sharing words, thoughts, emotions and secrets.”

I’ll hold this thought in mind every time I write…Thank you, and best wishes for the New Year to you and your family!

BC Doan’s last blog post..Images for the Second Week of December

15 Urban Panther 01.07.09 at 1:11 am

I am new to fiction writing, but I believe there is a reason for that. And it’s what you posted about. There is a bit of me in every single character I write. The past me, the current me, the me I yet to become. It makes the writer very vulnerable. I wasn’t ready to be vulnerable. Now I am.

You go, girl!

Urban Panther’s last blog post..Chef boyfriend = pounds gained

16 SpaceAgeSage -- Lori 01.07.09 at 2:53 am

I like this: “It’s easy to colour everything pretty or be cynical and darkly biting, but it’s a whole other story to delve deep …”

You color the world a brighter place with your example of honesty and authenticity. I think 2008 was a time to shake off the old and embrace a new you. With a more settled self, that novel will write itself. I look forward to the day you celebrate a publishing date!

SpaceAgeSage — Lori’s last blog post..Seven things I learned about blogging

17 Chris 01.07.09 at 3:04 am

I also consider my blog Watdawat as my greatest accomplishment this year.

“If you can’t be honest in your writing you’ll never make your reader feel. They’ll never cry, laugh until it hurts, or see the world in a new way.”

You are absolutely right on this one. I slowed down in my blogging because I had to focus all my emotions to my novel and my family and when I got in front of my blog, I had nothing more to give.

18 Vered - MomGrind 01.07.09 at 6:06 am

Thanks Kel. It’s SO SWEET that MusicMan commented!!!

Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Last-Minute Holiday Shopping? May I Suggest The Perfect Gift

19 Davina 01.07.09 at 6:35 am

Hi Kelly. There is power in vulnerability. I can relate to what you are saying. Funny how easy it seems to be to wear an alternate persona than to just be ourselves. How much energy it takes to wear that armour. What are we afraid of? I reach out through my vulnerability and it fills me up when I know I have moved someone. Writing is a gift and you have it. Thanks for sharing it.

Davina’s last blog post..The Quote Effect: Naughty, Nice & Niche Bloggers

20 Jenny Mannion 01.08.09 at 4:21 am

Happy New Year Kelly!

I loved this post and I have really enjoyed getting to know you through your writing and emails. I am grateful for She-Power and LOVE both your personal posts and your fictional writing.

I have wound up revealing a lot more of myself than I ever thought I would publicly through my blog and it is freeing and helps me to grow. I am also very grateful for the kind people I have met through blogging from all over the world.

The few times I have met with other blogger friends in person has been truly amazing — like seeing an old friend. I think it is our honesty and sharing that brings bloggers so close and we know more about each other in many ways than regular office co workers would share…

Thank you Kelly for your friendship, for your EXCELLENT writing and for being you!

Love,
Jenny

Jenny Mannion’s last blog post..Make Intentions Not Resolutions

21 Maya 01.08.09 at 4:56 pm

I feel very much like you do Kelly. I have loved what my blog has brought out in me – it have stripped myself bare and have grown as a result. I have grown from the writing and grown from the interaction. I never ever imagined blogging could be so wonderful.
You have said it beautifully!
Happy New Year to You!

Maya’s last blog post..Preparing to Believe in Yourself: The Science of Ditchiness

22 Robin 01.08.09 at 5:42 pm

Hi Kel – you ARE really honest in your writing – I love it!

I personally try to be – but my biggest “issues” are with close relationships, and I don’t want to write about them online, because they involve other people.

I was just thinking this morning or yesterday how the bunch of bloggers I have connected up with would be a ragged bunch of individuals if we were all in the same room together – in other words, they are highly defined. Not hiding behind masks too much, much like a bunch of musicians – funny in the light of MusicMan’s comment. x

Robin’s last blog post..5-Year Plan For This Blog

23 J.D. Meier 01.09.09 at 5:50 am

I like your learnings and your growth.

You did great with SHE-POWER and you should be proud.

What’s the difference between bare and not bare? I’m curious what the veneer is made of, since it sounds like a mysterious layer of stuff — but I don’t know what the stuff is.

J.D. Meier’s last blog post..Growth Mindset Over Fixed Mindset

24 Kelly 01.09.09 at 10:48 pm

@Lance
What a sweet comment. Thank you :)

@Evelyn
It doesn’t surprise me at all that your posts have helped people. You’ve certainly helped me, Evelyn, but you know that already.

@Dot
Honesty is always worth losing a few subscribers, if that’s how it goes down. It just means they were never supposed to be on your blog anyway.

@B.C Doan
Best wishes to you and your family as well. Thanks for being such a loyal support for this blog.

Kelly

25 Kelly 01.09.09 at 10:55 pm

@Urban Panther
I’ve been writing fiction for years and putting myself into my characters, but I couldn’t be vulnerable until recently and I can see the difference this change has made to my work. I hope you have a blast writing fiction this year, and look forward to reading more of your shorts.

@SpaceAgeSage
I think you may be right about last year, and I hope 2009 is a good year for me and publishing too :)

@Chris
I hear you. I have been very much in the same place recently. I hope we can both balance our families, our novels and our blogs for 2009 as I’d hate for either WatDaWat or SHE-POWER to disappear.

@Vered
He is sweet :)

Kelly

26 Kelly 01.09.09 at 11:05 pm

@Davina
Thank you. And I agree that wearing a mask, thinking about how we SHOULD respond, how we SHOULD present ourselves uses vital energy that would be so much better spent pursuing our heartfelt goals and embracing our authentic selves.

@Jenny
I hope I get the opportunity to meet some of my blogging friends someday because as you say there is an honesty and a sharing in some online relationships that has real depth and a sense of kindred spirits. All the best to you in 2009. xx

@Maya
I’m with you. I never imagined I’d fall so in love with blogging either.

@Robin
I am honest about what I write about, but believe me there are lots of things I don’t write about for the exact same reason you mentioned – it would involve other people and I have no right to share these personal details on the internet. I guess that’s my criteria really for what to write about. If I can’t be honest and retain my values and integrity, then I just don’t go there.

@J.D
For me, stripping yourself bare is writing straight from the heart and telling the truth, whether it’s ugly or not, whether it makes me sound vain, paranoid, whatever. It’s about choosing not to hide behind a persona that my head is trying to create to protect myself. It’s about laying myself down onto the page warts and all. Hope that clarifies.

Kelly

27 Tom Volkar / Delightful Work 01.10.09 at 7:43 am

Hi Kelly,

I’m with you on taking off the mask. I seldom wear one but sometimes I’ve paid attention to what I think will be praised and accepted in my writing more so than to what I’m really feeling. But no more.

I’ve set a theme for my year of prosperity through authenticity. It’s what I care about the most. Inspiring others to authentic wealth. We’ve all just got to be who we really are so why not be paid very well for that?

I’m honored to call you a blogging buddy and friend.

Tom Volkar / Delightful Work’s last blog post..A Guided Meditation for Authentic Expression

28 Jay 01.12.09 at 6:05 am

That’s exactly why I began to blog – to improve my writing skills and make myself write regularly. I may not have succeeded as well as you, but I’ve been blogging regularly since early 2008, so from that point of view, it was a success!

More power to your elbow! Honestly. 😉

29 Kelly 01.16.09 at 6:47 am

@Tom
At some point, I think all bloggers write what they think other people will respond to well. It’s natural when you’re trying to build a blog to try to get people to come back and we do that by giving them what we think they want. I did it too in the beginning. But I think that in the end you have to be authentic and therein you will find your true voice, your own special call in the wild that will make people come back regardless of what you write.

And what you do has the power to help so many people, Tom, so I think a bit of abundance is well in order. To your prosperity and bounding happiness in 2009. x

@Jay
Most bloggers don’t last more than 3-4 months, so a year of blogging is a huge achievement. Pat yourself on the back and toast yourself with a glass of wine. Here’s to putting in the time and the faith and becoming a better writer.

Kelly

30 Jannie 01.17.09 at 4:29 am

Oh, soooo wonderful and so true. The stuff that pours out of me uncensored that I think it too raw, is the stuff that people love the most.

Because we are all so alike.

Cheers to you Power-Girl!

Jannie’s last blog post..Ukulele Me!

31 Stacey / Create a Balance 01.22.09 at 3:31 am

Hi Kelly, I feel as if has been ages since we have “talked”. I love She-Power’s new look and your naked and exposed writing style. I love being able to be naked and exposed while keeping my clothes on.

I’m currently working on writing with my authentic voice to ensure people can see me behind my mask.

I love this post!

Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..Oprah Inspired Life Balance Products Are Here (With a Free Giveaway)

32 Wearing Mascara 01.26.09 at 3:20 pm

Hi Kelly,

Your blog is very inspirational. I just started my blog in August since lurking your blog :-) Thank you for your words of wisdom through writing. I still am finding my voice in the blogosphere and this post is helpful. Thank you!

Julie

Wearing Mascara’s last blog post..Pillow Barrier

33 Jenaveve 02.24.09 at 1:03 pm

Hi Kelly,

I’m so glad I just found your blog. You’re probably wondering why I’ve chosen this post to comment on, so late in the piece… it’s something you said about not feeling the need to reflect on ’08.

I truly related to this feeling and wondered if I were the only one, or if it were something in the stars…? There’s a whole new vibe this year and I was more than happy to let go of the past in order to get cracking on writing a novel. Not something I’d ever thought to actually begin; it was always a bit of a ‘one day I’ll write that book!’ – but something changed this year. I guess it’s just the right time.

But it is so easy to fear the veneer!

Hence, why I have declared this a year for no fear.

I’m off to subscribe and maybe catch up on some of your older posts…
Jen.

Jenaveve’s last blog post..Eye Spy… love

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