Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Publishing as a Second Language—Vulnerability

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

When I first began writing, my writing was good but probably just in the so-so category. I studied my craft, learned all the rules, and tried to discover exactly what publishers wanted to see come in to their magazines and editorial offices. After a lot of so-so writing, I wanted to dig deeper, study harder, and make my writing stand out. I wanted to touch lives and encourage people to make positive changes.

I discovered there was one critical part of my writing that was missing. Being an extremely private person, I didn’t want people to know exactly how I felt. Wasn’t it enough to tell bits of my story to illustrate a point I was making? Did I really have to peel back the outside layers of my emotions to expose what was deep within?

Bits of my story work fine if I only want to impart information to my readers. But if I truly want to reach their hearts, I must write from the bottom of mine. In order to do that, I learned I must become more open and share my feelings with my readers. I must become vulnerable.

But how could I possibly do that? I didn’t want the world to know my deep dark secrets (although mine were not much different from most people). What would my readers think of me?

I decided to give it a try. A bit reservedly I wrote about my mother’s bout with cardiomyopathy and the difficult decisions we had to make along the way. It would have been much more comfortable to do an easy story about  families walking through difficult health issues and give practical tips that may help. But I honestly shared my thoughts and feelings, opening myself up for the reader to see my raw emotion.

What happened? I began to receive mail from others who were walking though similar circumstances thanking me for sharing so openly. I received deeper questions about dealing with the serious illness of a loved one. As I had opened up to my readers, they had opened up to me. My writing had become a ministry to others.

Vulnerability in your writing means you tell the whole truth about what you are feeling. You are honest with your readers, stepping out in courage. You don’t try to cover-up your feelings in order to feel safe. Instead, you want to build a connection with your readers by inviting them in to your world.

If your writing is lacking a spark, or if you feel like you are not reaching your readers, why not step up your vulnerability. Open yourself up a little more in your writing. Not only will your writing become stronger, you will also find your reader connections grow deeper.


Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Linda is the author of 19 books and over 1000 magazine articles. She enjoys every meeting with editors and knowing we are all part of the same team. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!


  1. This was Cindy Sproles' advice to me years ago when I first began writing. Still good advice. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Vulnerability has been my latest learning curve over the last few months following excellent feedback from an editor. Your post here refreshed my spirit to do so more and more. Thank you Linda

  3. Okay, so I just have to know .... what are "folded potato chips"? I love potato chips and thought I tried them just about any kind of way ..... Thank you for this advice!! I know I like to read others' words with a personal touch, but I hesitate sometimes to be vulnerable with my own writing!

  4. Thanks to all who replied. Keep writing and sharing from your heart even though it is sometimes hard. Oh, and Julie, folded potato chips are the ones that get stuck together when they are fried or baked and come out folded. The kettle chips are especially folded a lot! Try 'em. You won't go back. They have become a "love note" in our family!