Writing and Self-Evaluation

It’s no secret that writing can serve as a form of therapy. All writers vent their emotions, thoughts, dreams, concerns, and frustrations even when they’re writing fiction. It’s simultaneously wish-fulfillment and the worst-case scenario. Many times writers know what they’re doing; sometimes it’s why they started writing that piece in the first place. However, just as often writers don’t realize the sort of messages that they’ve created. What about those subconscious choices? Should writers pay them any heed? Or should we avoid such self-evaluation?

I’ll admit that I often engage in self-evaluation during the later stages of editing. I can’t help it. I’m curious as to how my brain works and my writing provides the most direct path to my thought processes, not to mention it’s my only chance at viewing myself almost from an outsider’s perspective or as close as I can get to that. What I’ve found thus far has left me amused–sometimes bitterly–and often wondering what is wrong with me.

Comic retrieved from Pinterest

That’s the interesting thing about writers; we’re all off in our own ways and it seeps into our work. But should we try and reach the source of that uniqueness by analyzing our own works? Perhaps and perhaps not.

On the one hand, self-evaluation can help us to grow as writers and as people. We may notice trends which are overly-used in our work or which are red flags for us psychologically. If we catch the problem early, we can do something about it. We may also notice recurring themes which can have a positive impact on others and ourselves. If we spot the potential when it’s first starting to sprout, we can cultivate it.

On the other hand, we may not like what we discover. I’ve learned that I can have a rather pessimistic, or at least bitter-sweet, view of romantic relationships. That view is also on my mind a lot and intertwines with my work even if the focus of the piece isn’t romantic love at all. That’s not exactly something you want to realize about yourself.

Then we put ourselves in a rather sticky situation: should we try and chance ourselves as a result of the self-evaluation? If we do, we may lose the spark which makes us writers. If we don’t, we could lose our minds based solely on the fact that we know our minds work like that. We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.

There is no one answer that will fit every scenario. Sometimes we should delve into self-evaluation through our writing, other times we shouldn’t. Sometimes we should change and other times we should just accept and embrace who we are. It really depends on the individual writer and his/her situation. Only you know what you can handle and what is best for you psychologically.

Have you ever discovered something intriguing about yourself as you re-read your work? Something funny? Something disturbing? Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences below.

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Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

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