Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Taking the Risk - IWSG Post

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Happy Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day!  A time to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:   Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!
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Many of you may recall I’m working on a self-help book.  It was suggested by a critique partner that I add a bit more personal stuff as a way to connect better with the readers. Really let them know what I went through during my hubby's disclosure of his sex addiction and all that happened as a result.

I was hesitant.  I feared I was over sharing – something I used to do here on my blog when the wounds of my husband’s addiction were still so fresh and raw.

With time, I learned to tell my stories and experiences with less detail but still get the point across.  So, when it came to my self-help book, I went back and deleted most of the personal stuff I'd written and stayed almost generic with my writing before I sent it off for review by my critique partners. 

This chick rocks!
I wasn’t quite sure I should take my CP’s advice or stick with generalities.  That was until I read a draft of my friend Robyn Engel’s book.  She shared a piece of her childhood that struck a cord in me and literally brought me to tears. 

I won’t share the event Robyn described because it’s her story to tell, not mine, but I will say it involved an incident between her and her dad.  I was so moved by her writing and that glimpse into her childhood, I shared it with my husband.

He was so deeply touched after I read the excerpt to him, he was unable to speak for a long time. He saw himself in her tale. He took what Robyn wrote to heart and made the changes that needed to be made to be the best father he can be to our teenage daughter. 

The transformation has been amazing.

And, it all started with the chance Robyn took by writing about her childhood.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable and it paid off tenfold.

It made me realize just how much we have the ability to change lives with our writing.  Dramatic?  I don’t think so.  I’m watching it happen in my own home. And, I want to do that for someone else and generalities won't get me there. I have to be willing to show my own vulnerabilities and detail my growth because of them.

That risk of sharing our personal stuff with the world is one worth taking.  We never know whose lives we’ll touch and inspire. 

But, we know it’ll never happen if we don’t take the gamble. So let's go for it!




What about you?  Are you holding back on something because you fear the risk?


66 comments:

  1. I'm also reading a draft of Robyn's book and yeah, there is some moving stuff there. She didn't hold back. And if what she said affected you and your husband, then you know you can't hold back either.

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    1. One of my favorite things in her book, aside from her humor, is how much she shared of herself. I found it so inspiring and will do the same in my book. :)

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  2. We don't know how our words will impact another, what stepping out of our comfort zone will do to enrich another's life. We have to take that risk though.

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    1. It can be so difficult to step outside our comfort zones, but seeing what an impact it made to Devin and I really made me want to do the same with my book.

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  3. it is one worth taking for sure...and i think it allows people to connect with your writing and accept your truthes when they can put themselves in the same situ with you....

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    1. I agree. Funny thing is, my first draft I put so much risk in it, then doubted myself. Talk about insecure!! But, now I know I can help someone get through the same thing the more I share.

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  4. I haven't read Robyn's book draft....is it on her blog or did she email it to you all? I know I'm holding back on starting an online store for my stuff. I fear rejection so much. I really beat myself up over craft shows and that's why I only do a couple per year. They take a lot out of me mentally and emotionally. As an introvert it's a lot of sensory overload to be 'on' like that for hours. All the more reason to start an online store.

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    1. She emailed it to me. Trust me, it'll be well worth the buy when she's finished. I totally get what you're saying about doing craft shows. I don't think I could handle them either. That's our self doubt creeping in. But, let me say, JoJo, you really should sell your stuff. You are one super talented lady!!

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  5. You're right -- nothing impacts us like stories right from the heart.

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    1. Agreed. It just took someone else putting themselves out there for me to see it.

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  6. Robyn IS great! Plus, she has a bottle.

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    1. I thought she had chocolate and celebrities… haha

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  7. I agree with the advice you were given. When you add something personal, it makes the book your story! Anyone can hand out advice, but until you connect it to yourself, it's not going to move you. It also validates your advice. It makes the reader think "Ok, she started with this problem, but ended it like this".

    P.S. As a self declared blabbermouth, I cringed at the words "over sharing". haha

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    1. You're right, Jax. I think it's how much I share. I need to be careful of that cringeworthy word - oversharing. No one needs to know every single detail of every single even that happened. But, a nice balance would be great. I just have to find it. :)

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  8. That is a great story about your friend's writing making such an impact. There is probably a middle road between TMI and the right details of a personal story to make it real. Good luck with your book!

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    1. She really did inspire me to add more personal stuff. But, yeah, finding that delicate balance is important. There are just some things people don't need to know to get the point.

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  9. I'm (almost) speechless, Elsie. This is such an important lesson for me. I'm likely as moved by your and Devin's response as you were by that small segment of my story. I can't recollect how many drafts it took for me to finally spill it all, but I can tell you that it took close to 3-1/2 years of an emotional struggle to get straight to the page with an outpouring - even then, only in bits at a time. But I also found that - like sex, LOL - all the work up was for naught. The writing often went very smoothly when I finally jumped straight into the scene.


    Hugs, love, and appreciation.

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    1. I totally understand, Robyn. There are some parts in my book that are just so painful to revisit even with all the work I did to move past them. It may take a time or two (or three or four) to get the event out without it being a total word vomit. But, you, my friend, have made an impact in our household. Thank you!

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  10. Inspiring! Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I have such a free of not succeeding with my writing that I hold back. I must get over it and write already!

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    1. I share that fear, Donna. I've been working on this self-help book for a couple of years. I just need to get it done! We'll get through it though. :)

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  11. It's always best to write from the heart. That way our stories will be that much more real and will stand a better chance of touching readers. Here's hoping you can put aside your fear and relate your experiences in a way that will also touch readers.

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    1. Just writing this post, and seeing everyone's encouragement, has given me the spark I needed to really dig in and write from the heart. Thank you so much!

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  12. You really nailed it in this post, Elsie! Thanks for sharing straight from your heart. It's really hard to put your personal truth out there, but doing so can be healing for others and for you. I decided to tackle my earlier life through a manuscript I've carried around in my heart for decades. While my experiences were painful to face, they were quite different from yours. It's taken me two years of floundering to make peace with everything and to begin consistently posting on my blog about my time in the North. My manuscript is in the works, as I am finally in a place that I can handle the emotions. I'm glad that your husband is healing. We all have such potential for growth! Don't be so hard on yourself about the time that you have spent on your book so far! It's a process you have to work through, and you'll get there!

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    1. Hi Fundy! I just came back from poking around your blog. I read a few posts about your past and saw the pain. I'm so sorry. However, I'm glad you were able to turn that pain into something positive. I'm also relieved to hear it took you as long as it's taking me. ;p I know I'll get there and I'm in no hurry, I have no deadline, I just want to share my experiences so it will help others avoid the many mistakes that I made along the way. Thank you so much for your kind words and your support. Hugs!!

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  13. A reader notices when the author doesn't write from the heart. But it sounds like you found some amazing motivation in Robyn's story. Lovely post.

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    1. My CP reminds me of that from time to time. I really have to be in the right frame of mind to work on my self-help book. When I'm not, it shows in my writing. It's much easier to switch over to my fictional work sometimes. :)

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  14. Best of luck with your gamble. I do connect more with the personal stuff. It makes it seem more relateable. I wish you great success and courage.

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    1. I feel the same connection when others share their personal experiences. It would make sense for me to do the same. Thank you, Loni!

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  15. Gotta find the balance between getting personal and getting too detailed. Good luck.

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    1. And it can be such a fine line between the two. But, I know I'll get it with time…and patience.

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  16. What? You hold back from, whining, err umm I mean over sharing? Are those migraines changing your brain? lol

    The personal touches do add a whole lot more because people can relate in some way more, the stale generic stuff people may find use out of but it won't hit home as well, if it does at all. The cat's not afraid to over share at all, say whatever he wants at his hall. Helps when you hide behind a cat or an old one eye fake pic lol

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    1. I know right, cat. Don't you miss all those long, whiney posts about my migraines and my life? Trust me, there are still times I could write a seven hundred word post and not bat an eye. hahaha Be glad I cut them back. I know you're not afraid to be blunt. I could take some lessons from you! And, don't forget, I put a picture of me on here. (So what if I blurred my face!!)

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  17. It can be painful enough writing about the real stuff, but then showing it to others? phew! Very brave. Thank you for such an inspiring post.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Angela. I sure don't feel brave ;p

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  18. At this point in time I am way out of my comfort zone. The mistakes are stacking up. I might eventually give up blogging all together. You gotta have fun - even in the face of adversity. So I travel this week from blog to blog and enjoy what others share. Thank you for such a touching post.

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    1. Aw, I hope you don't give up blogging. And, I hope whatever is going in your world settles down soon. When I was at my worst, I turned to blogging, it was very cathartic for me.

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  19. In case you don't realize this...You are one strong lady! You may not feel it or think it but you are! Robyn is as well and if we touch one life, it makes everything worthwhile. What you and your husband are dealing with holds such stigma and that is due to ignorance of this addiction. I think I often over share and there was a time when I would hold things in. I still will be careful especially to whom i speak to but, in the end, I refuse to let stranger's comments hurt me or make me question my self...my being. I choose to ignore them and I have found when I speak about the past ills, I find that they lose their power and hold. I can move so much more ahead and faster without feeling kept back...it's a great feeling

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    1. You're far too kind, Birgit. I don't feel very strong at times. Especially with the mark of disclosure right around the corner. Although it doesn't effect me the way it used to, it's still a painful reminder of all that happened four years ago. But, I am sure to be gentle with myself and not too critical if I'm feeling sad. I believe oversharing can be helpful at times, as long as it's not hurting anyone. It's a great way to get feedback from others. Hugs to you!

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  20. Hi Elsie,

    This a powerful post. Harsh truths are hard to write. I think the harder it is to write the better the writing is. Emotional raw honesty transcends social stigma by opening the minds of others. You are a brave woman.

    Life's too short to hold back creativity. Cheers to you for refusing to censor yourself.

    Good luck on your project!
    -Adrienne

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    1. Thank you, Adrienne. I did a bit of work in my book yesterday and yeah, those harsh truths can be hard to write but there is also a sense of freeing myself as they spilled from my fingers.

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  21. Hi Elsie,

    Sometimes it can be freeing to share something personal about yourself that has been weighing you down. It's up to you to decide what you feel comfortable sharing. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

    I've read a number of memoirs, and while the moments of glory can be satisfying to read (if the author builds me up to it), it's often the author's rock bottom moments, their experiences of intense angst, that really tap into my emotions as a reader.

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    1. Agreed, Cynthia. Writing about that difficult time can be such a great way to take the emotional load off of my shoulders. As I wrote, I was careful not to share too much, but share enough to where it will hit home with the reader, especially if they're going through the same thing I did. Thank you!

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  22. I wish I could express how much I agree with your CP - and with you!! The best non-fiction, the kind that really resonates and stays with us and moves us, contains elements of personal stories and lives. We are emotional creatures, whether we like it or not, and it's the emotions and experiences that help us invest in a story, true or fiction. In the non-fiction classes I've taken, the feedback to add more of the personal was constant - and it always helped. You're right, it needs to be done with care and with a lot of editing, but it does need to be done. Good for you for doing it!! ANd I want to read Robyn's book...

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    1. It just dawned on me that my first CP told me I needed to add reactions to my fictional book. I wrote all these great scenes but then never had my main character really react to them properly. I just summed up her reactions in a few sentences. Perhaps I've swung too far in the closed section of my mind and need to open up a bit more in my fiction and non-fictional work. I'm so glad to hear you want to read Robyn's book. It's a great one.

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  23. Your post is so inspiring. Go get 'em GRRL! Thank you.

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  24. People don't connect with generalities. They may understand them, but they don't connect with them.
    People only connect with experiences.

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    1. Very true, Andrew. There is something in our human DNA that wants that strong emotional connection in all that we do.

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  25. I know Robyn's site and think she is fun and a nice person!
    Be personal is always a risk but all we learn with it!
    Big hugs and love dear!:)

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    1. I know! Robyn always makes me laugh when I read her work. She just has this unique way of making me smile even when she's talking about some painful stuff. She rocks. Hugs back atcha!

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  26. We all have our secrets. Some are meant to be shared some are not. Each individual much choose. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. Absolutely. There are some things that I don't need to write about to help another person. And, there is some stuff that needs to be revealed in order for the person to understand what I went through.

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  27. Sharing experiences can definitely warm someone's heart or offer helpful advice to those who need it. We can still keep secrets. But some are meant to be shared when you're ready.

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    1. I think you bring up a great point. When I wrote the first draft, it was a total word vomit. The next was brought down to bare bones. Now, I'll have a happy mix - I hope. hehe

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  28. Hi Elsie ... so pleased you connected with Robyn - and as the others have said connecting and writing from your heart is the essential thing. You've really affected everyone who has commented ... and taught us all something - that's great and you've found your own way to 'redemption' with your family's challenges.

    Would this have come about if we weren't blogging ... I do find many connections I know in life I'd never have found ... blogging has been an amazing uplifting experience in so many ways ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you so much, Hilary. You just warmed my heart. I worked so hard on my recovery and learned so much while I went through it, it only made sense for me to share those tough times with others so they can, hopefully, avoid the some of the mistakes I made.

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  29. I think we all hold back in ways because fear of risk.

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  30. Ya, with your subject it would help to share some of your personal experience as part of the purpose is to let people know they are not alone. You can strike a good balance between the personal and the practical.

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  31. Hi Elsie,

    Robyn, like your good self, realises that being transparent, candid and emotive, is not only therapeutic but can bestow upon the reader the gift of empathy.

    Recovery is a process of the heart. Writing, self-help writing, can be another positive resource that helps you and thus helps others.

    My fear is fear of success.

    Have a peaceful, hopeful weekend, dear Elsie.

    Gary

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  32. Sometimes sharing something deep and personal does struck a chord with other people and helps them.

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  33. Woohoo! Glad to hear Robyn's helping you out with the self help book, and I'm glad to see your own personal experiences in there. It's a delicate balance. You want personal experiences so you can connect with the reader, but you don't want the book to just seem like it's an autobiography. With that said, it sounds like you've got that under control and it's shaping up well.

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  34. I absolutely love this phrase from this post "...we have the ability to change lives with our writing."
    I couldn't agree more.
    H

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.