Today, I want to talk about writing and self-discovery. I’m a firm believer that the core of story and character, and even knowing if we’re plotters or pantsers, comes from understanding ourselves. The better we know who we are, the more powerful (and more efficient) our writing becomes. Here are a handful of ways I believe self-discovery and writing are intertwined:

  • Theme: Discovering what you’re passionate enough to spend months (or years!) writing about is powerful fuel. Many times, themes are unveiled as you go along the first or fifth drafts, but once you find them…latch on and use it as the thrust. But if you set out to write a book on the “nature of evil” and you really don’t care all that much about it, well, maybe a theme around “getting the boy” will work better.
  • Plot: What’s affected your life surely comes into play in your writing. It’s not necessarily ‘write what you know’ in the traditional sense (though it can be), but examining the plot of your life is a gold-mine for a story: First loves. Fitting in. Growth. Death.
  • Character: This is a fairly large and obvious part of self-discovery and writing. As a writer you must tap into your own emotional well to provide your characters with their reactions.
  • Mechanics: We all have ‘literary tics’ especially in early drafts. I love words like ‘wobble’ (it’s just funny) and so it ends up many, many places in my writing. Now that I’m aware of this, I can be on the look out and make sure it shows up only a few times.
  • Process: Knowing how you operate won’t necessarily make writing easier, but it will make the dips more bearable. I always wear grumpy pants when I’m shifting gears between drafts. Some people have to write 10 chapters before they get to the start of a story. Again, this self-awareness doesn’t mean that you will be able to avoid writing those pages, but it ensures that you won’t hold onto them too tightly when it’s time for the cutting room floor.

See what I mean? Just a little look on the inside can reveal huge rewards in many aspects of your writing.  


Great post! I completely agree that writing is a powerful tool for self-discovery, and sometimes it can happen without your intention! I often find that the focus of a story changes as I write, and I think of each writing project as a learning experience about myself as well as about writing.

I think the hardest part of self-discovery, right now, is that it's constantly changing. Maybe you're having this problem too, maybe not, but with a little baby in the house, it's all up in the air. As soon as I get comfortable with one thing, it switches up again.

Things WILL go back to normal. Ish.

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