Self-reflection as a writer’s tool


Tina Dubinsky

Over the past two and quarter years, my journey through a Master of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University embraced self-reflection. As lecturer, Josie Arnold instructed, self-reflection unpeels and unpacks:

  • feelings,
  • thoughts, and
  • experiences.

Self-reflection teaches us about the processes we use to create a new work. It can help us:

  • work out what techniques work for us when we write a story,
  • work out what methods we may have tried that didn’t add to our creative output,
  • generate new ideas,
  • discover why we ended the day with a blank page,
  • explain how we were able to lose ourselves in the flow of creativity.

Self-reflection and learning from other writers’ reflections

But the benefit of self-reflection goes beyond personal journals and academic discourse. It encompasses online blogs and articles about writing and interviews with writers.

Learning from the reflections of other writers can help improve our craft and the way we approach it.

Before I started my studies, I used Twitter to learn from other writers’ reflections. But the stream of short messages that constantly flashed past made it difficult to find them.

For this reason, I’ve started a Flipboard Magazine called, ‘The Writer’s Path’ to capture daily, reflections and thoughts by other writers.

View The Writer’s Path.

Reading other writers’ thoughts can help to inspire creativity while encouraging participation and practice.

Writing experiences

My writer’s blog shares my writerly experiences and reflections. The success of an online blog relies on publishing posts with a regular frequency, something I’ve lacked.

With this advice by Julian Novitz still fresh in my mind from the unit, Online Writing, I’m committing to:

  • maintaining this blog at least weekly,
  • reflecting on my writing process,
  • sharing short extracts of my work,
  • reviewing books as a writerly-reader, and
  • discussing the writer’s craft.

Online writing

In a few days, I should know the result for my last subject in my Masters.

Academic theory and discourse matured my approach to writing. From my studies came ideas, thoughts, reflection and the realisation that like any discipline writing requires commitment, planning and preparation.

One project that I hope to share with you in February, is an interactive hypertext-fiction. A digital sci-fi story, U-Foria Adventures was the title of my Online Writing assignment.

My aim with this project was to create a work that was different to a story that I might publish as a book. With this in mind, I had to consider my online reader and how they would interact with the page elements to create a narrative.

Working on U-Foria reawakened a passion for creative online writing. Completing it serves as an important goal for 2017.

Fractured has evolved

You may recall that my university adventure began with a need to develop my writing skills.

In 2014, I completed the first draft of my “novel”, Fractured. After leaving it for a few weeks, I began the process of revising. And that’s where I found myself floundering. I couldn’t read past the first few pages.

It was atrocious and I needed help with my writing. So, I re-enrolled at university.

Through reflection, I discovered my original scratchings contained not just one story, but a series.

I also discovered:

  • how much I enjoy plotting,
  • that planning need not kill creativity,
  • stories need thoughtful structure, and
  • research rewards writing.

For my major praxis assignment at university, I took the first story from my draft novel and re-molded it with a dose of planning, structure and reflection. Then, I allowed it to mutate while my imagination choreographed the story through my fingers and onto the page.

The working title of the first book is now Antiquity. At just over 20,000 words it is a quarter completed.

This first quarter has met six revisions already. This included a long reading session with my family. They listened enthralled for hours as I read the story out loud and continued to make edits.

Completing and publishing Antiquity forms the first goal for 2017.

An end of sorts

While my Masters is at an end, it has jump started new adventures.

My current fictional projects include:

  1. Antiquity, a SFF Novel based in the fictional world, Azur.
  2. U-Foria Adventures, a sci-fi pick-your-path digital story.
  3. Six short stories from my original scratchings set in the fictional world, Azur. I completed the first story for the unit, Reading and Writing.
  4. Six short historical fiction stories featuring the character, Lady Bland. I completed the first story for the unit, Writing Histories.

Focusing on the first three projects in this list while continuing to grow my non-fiction writing at HubPages will keep me busy in 2017. I’m also working on a top-secret blog project.

While self-reflection has helped me to realise my goals for 2017, using it to critique and research writerly practices, also provides opportunities to improve and develop my craft.

What have you discovered with your writerly self reflections?

Comments, thoughts?