Self-Awareness and Writing Part One: Confronting Your Flaws

Self- awareness and Writing

Hello everyone,

Recently, I’ve read various books and blog posts in the hope of expanding my writing skills. As a self-confessed plotter the reading material I chose was focused on understanding the various parts of a story and how they interact with each other.birds-1506994_640

What I wasn’t expecting to learn about was how much a story can revolve around the writer’s own journey.

In The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson the author suggested I give my protagonist a character flaw I have. Alderson claimed it would make my protagonist more human. She further suggested I use the journey of my protagonist to be influenced by my own experiences and perceptions.

As a retired art psychotherapist I was intrigued. I had used the story of the art pieces my clients created to help them cope with tragedy and loss. I had witnessed how successful a therapy method narrating an art piece could be. Recently I’ve used art directives to help the writers who come to Elaine’s and my Writing from the Centre retreats to deepen their creative experience.

A writer using her own flaws to create more memorable characters was an idea I was conflicted about. It’s not easy to be self-aware enough to recognize our flaws let alone to own them. Most people hide behind bravado and rarely project their insecurities publicly. That said, using fiction to generate characters that can work though the flaws of the writer provides a tantalizing reason to keep on writing.

I needed to give this idea a try.

I have a fear of confrontation. I don’t like it at all. I envy and am annoyed by those of us who have no problem expressing unpopular positions that go against the status quo.

So, I gave my main character Jaime a fear of confrontation. I wrote or plotted scenes where she didn’t and did confront people. In my novel Jamie learns through trial and error what works for her. She never learns to enjoy confrontation but she’s more at peace with it and becomes able to express herself in a proactive way.

However, a strange thing happened to me as I was discovering Jaime. I start to feel more comfortable speaking my mind and trusting my judgement. I’m not good at it and I still sweat like crazy when faced with another person’s anger, but I’m recognizing my evolving personality and how writing about it helps me to become a better person.

I’m not saying this will work for everyone but I hope it will give you something to think about.

Perhaps, we all put something of ourselves into the characters we create, consciously or unconsciously, and it’s this part of our characters that the reader connects to.

Happy Writing:)

3 comments Write a comment

  1. Hey Jenn, I discovered this by accident. I fell into writing a Romance…me…that was never going to happen to me, I don’t even read them…but, as I wrote, I realized that both characters in my novel were me…they both had my character flaws, each in different ways and they dealt with them, well, actually way better than I have. I have stopped reeling over the idea that I have written a romance and have started watching them carefully for solutions to my situations. More than funny is the fact that when I was explaining this to my co-author (daughter) , she looked at me skeptically. Finally she said, they can’t have your character flaws….they have mine. We laughed but she was serious.

    How is this even possible? I have to think that we each bring ourselves to our writing. Even though we each wrote and blended scenes, we both wrote characters so very different from us, who are indeed us. It has been an amazing process. Actually watching my daughter grow through her writing reminds me of my growth too. We can often discuss a point of plot and know exactly what our character is capable of because we know them through our own cells…and then then they turn around and find a solution neither of us has ever thought of…it is brilliant. Thanks for writing about this. I didn’t realize it ‘was a thing’, but I love it. One more reason to write. Vicki

  2. Hey Jennifer,

    I love your website, I read your blog and it is incredible so proud that you are taking your writing abilities to the next level and sharing your emotions and thoughts and creating or re-creating a work of art with it. I feel like writing is one of the greatest forms of healing and therapy that exists, and the best part is, it always touches others lives in so many ways and areas as well :)

    I am enjoying your posts, keep sending them!!

    Inbox
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    Red Earth Goddess

  3. Inbox
    x

    Red Earth Goddess
    Hey Jennifer,

    I love your website, I read your blog and it is incredible so proud that you are taking your writing abilities to the next level and sharing your emotions and thoughts and creating or re-creating a work of art with it. I feel like writing is one of the greatest forms of healing and therapy that exists, and the best part is, it always touches others lives in so many ways and areas as well :)

    I am enjoying your posts, keep sending them!!

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