Most writing takes place in a state of solitude. It’s us – the writer – versus the blank page in an epic battle to create a compelling narrative that will leave future readers or viewers spellbound and wanting more. It’s great to have the mindset that what we are creating is exceptional, but we also have to give ourselves the opportunity for reflection and self-awareness when it comes to our own work.
Self-Awareness, Not Self-Criticism
Being self-aware as a writer means having the ability to write something, step back, and find the issues that need fixing. It doesn’t mean beating yourself up or telling yourself negative things about your writing skills or you as a writer.
It doesn’t matter what level of writer you are; the ability to look at your work and make the changes necessary to craft a stronger narrative is a skill that can assist your quest to become a better writer.
This is not a skill that can be achieved overnight but can be learned over time. The more you write, the more you’ll sense when pacing is off, dialogue isn’t working, or there’s a lack of conflict or stakes in the chapter or scene. It’s easy to see these issues in other people’s works, but utilizing this skill with your own work is a must in your writer’s toolbox.
Self-Awareness and Your Subconscious
Have you ever written something, walked away, and a few hours later began to deconstruct what you wrote and found problems with the story or a character’s actions? That is self-awareness, and it’s your subconscious telling you that there are potential changes to be made.
Don’t get upset or frustrated. This is where the growth and writing magic can happen.
Your mind is still writing long after your fingers have quit tapping the keyboard. Your subconscious knows your story, knows your characters, and knows where the problems are. Don’t get discouraged when these red flags pop up. Your brain gives you clues as to what to fix to make your work stronger.
As long as you take a proactive approach to the changes and don’t stop writing, these moments of creative clarity can profoundly impact your writing and subsequent drafts of your project.
Self-Awareness from the Start
As you craft your outline, you may start to internally ask yourself questions about various aspects of your story. That’s good. Write these questions down. Will they be answered later in the story? Are the questions related to structure or character? Keep a list of these questions as you work on your outline and see if they are questions worth exploring once the outline is completed.
It’s often better to have most of the answers related to your story resolved before you start writing to avoid any hang-ups during the drafting process. While drafting, you may come across other issues, but answering questions that pop up while working on your outline will get many structural problems fixed before you begin.
Self-Awareness Makes for Better Writing
Your writing reflects you and reflects who you are as a writer. If you think that your first draft is perfection with no need to edit or even have a trusted person read it before you publish, you lack self-awareness as a writer.
Every good writer takes the time to hone their craft and make revisions when necessary, and they almost always are necessary to some extent. Yes, you may have written a short story that is 100% perfect on your first draft, but novels and screenplays will often have issues that need to be fixed before they are taken to the next stage.
Start by walking away from your draft for a week or two, then come back with fresh eyes. Maybe your subconscious has been gnawing at you for the past two weeks about issues in the story, and you’ve written them down to address them later.
Now start at page one and read – don’t skim – every sentence, paragraph, and chapter with fresh eyes and a new perspective. You will see some glaring problems, maybe a few typos, and other things that definitely need tweaking.
And that’s great! You are making a better product and making yourself a better writer.
Being a self-aware writer means that you care about the work you are producing, and you respect your completed work’s potential reader or viewer. By taking this step and putting in the effort to make your writing better, you further your goals of being a more productive and confident writer.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!