There are many hurting people who need encouragement and empathy. We can help them by revealing our shortcomings, our mistakes, and our failures. Sometimes it helps just to say, “I don’t walk in your shoes, but this is what I’ve been through, and this is how I coped.”
To be of service to our audience, we must appear real to them. This is what I try to do in all my writing. In my book, Breaking Invisible Chains, released by New Hope in 2013, I made myself vulnerable and showed how I had been verbally and emotionally abused.
Though sharing the lessons we’ve learned can help others, we need to be careful not to air our dirty laundry. When I write about my experience, I always run the stories by my two sons for their approval. I certainly don’t want to hurt them with my writing. By showing verbal and emotional abuse through the words of the perpetrator, I paint the scene using dialogue rather than expressing my opinion of the person. This is a much more effective way of getting the point across.
You must be willing to take risks in your writing, too. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your audience. Look in the Bible at David, Joseph, and Paul. We know of their weaknesses by the accounts told of them. People cannot relate to someone who seems perfect.
My recent books include other people’s stories which add credibility to the books. Many of the stories are written under pseudonyms. I find my contributors often feel more freedom to write their stories if they do not use real names. I have occasionally written a story under a pseudonym that was on a sensitive subject—a situation where I didn’t want a relative or friend to be hurt by what I wrote. It is vital that our writing helps others and never harms them.
We need to be willing to share ourselves with our readers. By being open and honest in our writing, we will reveal our innermost thoughts, making us transparent and vulnerable. To be effective, our writing must be carved on the hearts of our audience as well as on our own hearts.
Susan Titus Osborn is the director of the Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service where she heads a staff of 18 editors. She has authored over 30 books, including Wounded by Words, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, and Breaking Invisible Chains, co-authored by Jeenie Gordon and Karen Kosman and published by New Hope Publishers. She lives in Fullerton, California, with her husband Dick. They have five grown children, 12 grandkids, and 3 great-grandsons. Contact her through her website, The Christian Communicator.