How Lit Goes – Mirror, Mirror: How Self-Reflection can Enhance your Writing

What does self-reflection mean in the world of writing?

The truth about self-reflection (and life) is that you need to find balance.

Too much introspection, and you’re over critical, not enough, and you’re lazy.

And all the while, we struggle because we fail to recognize what the balance of each should look like.

How can I start to self-reflect as a writer?

To make your writing journey more effective, it is important to reach out to writing communities.

If you are unable to find an editor, you should ask a friend.

And if you’re friends are uninterested, find an online forum.

The personal journey of improvement should be filled with a balance of appreciation and criticism of your own work.

It is okay to fall deeply in love with a piece as long as you find time to contrast those emotions completely and read your piece again.

By doing that you might be able to circumvent a text so well that the balance in the middle is the lasting feeling you’re left with. In that moment of clarity, you might see into your own genius.

Photo by Thirdman

So, how are you using self-reflection to grow as a writer?

There are plenty of facets in my writing I desperately want to improve: dialogue, action, transitions from scene to scene, etc.

The New Year coming around again is a focusing event. A time to take the microscope and pin down what has happened and plan what will happen.

The flaw I will fix in the coming year is related to this equilibrium: finding a better balance between the imagery of a scene and the amount of plot that I fit into it.

I ultimately want to create an immersive experience for my readers.

Imagery (such as poets aspire to create) is one part of this.

Images are conjured up similar to the magic of a magician, a lot of fast motion and sleight of hand.

For example, with descriptions of walls, pillars, open ceiling plans, statues, vases, frames, bright white colors, and deafening silence I can post the framework of a museum.

Half of world-building is word-choice. The other half is plot of course.

My plot must keep you in the world I invented (there must be something that will make you want to stay in the world I created).

Plot is devised through dialogue and narration while also taking elements like timing and flow into consideration.

My issue is maintaining the balance between plot-development and world-building.

Too often I feel as if a scene has more imagery than plot and after I am done “fixing” it, I seem to think there is too much plot and not enough imagery.

How is the balance between plot and imagery important to your writing?

The idea of creating a better balance is especially important to me because the type of stories I want to tell.

I write short books that follow a series and take place in the same world.

So in this sense, I do not have the luxury spending a chapter on a scene just to take the reader away for a while to focus on world-building. Nor can I spend a chapter simply trying to develop my plot.

Within each segment, I have to do my best to combine both elements first to keep the immersive experience alive and secondly to create an action-packed tale.

With a story that has so many elements and which aims to mirror our own world there is not enough time to let one element overwhelm the other.

How are you planning to be better about maintaining this balance?

I have devised an exercise that I want to do with each scene I attempt to create.

It is a pre-revision and post-revision exercise in which I jot down the forces of both plot and imagery in a diagram or T-chart. After writing the scene and implementing the pre-notes, I will look at the piece again and do the same thing to make sure that I hit every mark I had planned to hit.

Hopefully, by following this process I can become more cognizant of the delicate balance I hope to achieve because in the end, self-reflection is the only way to take control of my words and improve my writing.

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