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How to Use Self-Reflection to Your Advantage as a Writer

When I’m feeling rather stressedunproductive, or unmotivated, the last thing I want to do is immediately start powering through my never-ending to-do list. I usually find myself wasting time, trying to tackle the smaller tasks, but never getting back to a point where genuine work is being completed.

I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to feel more stressed and overwhelmed lately, and a lot of that has to do with the pressure I’ve put on myself to do more with my time. Instead of taking things slowly, writing pieces that I’m passionate about, I was forcing the words to come and wondering why I never published any of it.

I’ve been attempting to get rid of those feelings by engaging in a little self-reflection to see if I can find out why my productivity and creativity levels fluctuate so much.

My Love of Journaling Led to Escaping the Stress

I distinctly remember a day where I was so fed up with feeling like I hadn’t gotten anything done that I pulled out the journal I hadn’t written in for a while to dump all of my thoughts. I instantly started to feel a bit better, like I accomplished something, but I could also see all of my problems staring back at me from the page. A lot of what was holding me back had nothing to do with my inability to get back to work, but because I had let the fear of not succeeding overwhelm me.

That single journal session led to a continuous habit where I need to have a few moments to pour out all of my thoughts and feelings onto the page, especially if they’re keeping me from writing.

Capturing My Thoughts Encouraged Me to Write About My Experiences

It took a while before I genuinely allowed myself to journal about anything other than my work progress. Allowing myself to be vulnerable again, to tear apart each experience looking for answers I may not have received, has taught me a valuable lesson about reintroducing vulnerability into my writing. It was after those few times I spent recalling experiences that taught me something worth sharing, did I finally have the guts to write about them. Those pieces are some of my best work because they come from a place of genuine emotion.

Reflecting on My Failures Push Me to Improve Both Personally and Professionally

As writers and creators, we tend to focus too much on our failures instead of doing what we can to learn from them. In the beginning, I was so caught up by the idea of not reaching the level of success I wanted, that I stopped trying altogether, my writing suffered because I didn’t do anything to improve. I was putting myself at a disadvantage by convincing myself that I wasn’t good enough.

It’s hard to get back to work when your mind is filled with those thoughts. They’re the kind that makes you put pressure on yourself to do the impossible and get an unrealistic amount of work done. A bit of internal reflection can help you to point out the areas where you might want to develop, and it may help you think of the things you can do to better both your writing and mental health overall.

I was always in the mindset that I needed to be continually consuming new content and information to write well and garner traffic to my site. Though, all that was doing was taking a toll on my mental health instead of giving me new ideas to run with. It was when I took a step back, spent a considerable amount of time trying to write about the things that mattered to me, did I begin to understand how important and useful self-reflection truly is.

Don’t be afraid to sit with your thoughts for a while, to be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling because it can help you get back to that productive mindset you seek much faster than pretending like those feelings don’t exist. Give it a try, do a bit of free-writing, and see where your mind takes you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! Let’s stay in touch.

Follow me on Medium for more writing content or check out my website.

Anisa Nasir is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and family. She’s the writer behind As She Writes.

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