Two Modes of Self-Awareness: Your Key to Unlocking Creativity

Let’s talk about something super important: self-awareness.

Being aware of what’s happening in your mind is a powerful tool that can help you grow as a writer. It’s about noticing your thoughts, feelings, and reactions without judgment. This kind of self-awareness can guide you to make better decisions, improve your craft, and stay motivated.

For example, when you’re writing and suddenly feel stuck, self-awareness can help you recognize that you’re experiencing a block. Instead of panicking or feeling defeated, you can calmly acknowledge it and take steps to overcome it. It’s a way of tuning into your creative process and understanding what you need to keep going.

For me, a huge amount of awareness happens in that moment. 

What’s that moment? 

On many days when I sit down to write, a small voice will murmur in the back of my mind that it would be nice to not write today. 

Most days, I ignore the voice.  But some days (way too many of them, in my estimation), there’s a moment.  That moment.  It’s when I pause and actually consider not writing.

And all the flawless, compelling reasons why I shouldn’t write today start to form.  The litany runs through my mind.  “Well, I’ve written every day this week.  A day off isn’t going to hurt.  I can catch up tomorrow.”

Or, “I’m ahead of the production schedule.  I can afford a day off.”

Or, “I’m tired.  Yeah, I’m tired.  And there’s a bit of a headache starting up.  I shouldn’t write today. I can write tomorrow and I’ll write better because I won’t be so tired.”

Oh, I can come up with a long, detailed and well-considered list of reasons why I shouldn’t write today, and that list will form within a few seconds of that moment.

I’ve learned to watch my thoughts – a high degree of self-awareness—in these moments.   If I find myself actually paying attention to the “let’s not write today” seed thought, then I must shut down the flood of “here’s why that’s a good idea” justifications that follow, or I won’t write. 

I’ve learned how critical that moment is, through watching my thoughts.

On the other hand, there’s self-consciousness.

This is when you start making judgments about your thoughts. It’s when you think, “Why am I having such a hard time with this scene? I suck as a writer.  A real writer wouldn’t have this issue.”

Worse:  “Here we go again.  I’m stupid.  I keep having this problem with the ends of scenes…!”

These judgments can be lethal to your creativity. They create doubt and fear, which can stop you in your tracks.

Imagine you’re in the middle of writing a chapter and a negative thought pops up: “This isn’t good enough.” Instead of simply noticing the thought and moving on, you start to believe it and let it affect your confidence. Suddenly, you’re stuck in a cycle of self-doubt, questioning every word you write.

This is self-consciousness, and it can be crippling.

The key is to practice self-awareness without slipping into self-consciousness. Notice your thoughts, but don’t judge them.

If you catch yourself thinking, “I’m struggling with this paragraph,” simply acknowledge it and think about what you can do to move forward. Maybe you need a break, or perhaps it’s time to brainstorm new ideas.

Another area where self-consciousness can become crippling is when (not If, because we all do it) you hear about the success of another author, and you slide into comparitinitus mode.

It’s not the author’s success that is damaging, it’s what you tell yourself about that success that delivers the immobilization. 

“It’s not fair.  When am I going to get professional recognition like that?”  “I’m never going to be a bestseller like them.  I’m just not as good a writer.”

Self-conscious mind chatter is toxic.  It will halt you in your tracks and ensure you don’t write today and perhaps for more than the day.

By staying aware without judging, you keep your creativity flowing.

Remember, self-awareness is your friend. It helps you understand yourself and your writing process better. But self-consciousness? That’s the enemy. It’s the voice that tries to convince you that you’re not good enough. Don’t listen to it.

So next time you sit down to write, practice self-awareness. Notice what’s going on in your mind, and let go of any judgments. Your creativity will thank you.

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