In the creative writing classes I teach, we spend some time getting to know one another.
Students interview other students, asking questions about their families, their childhoods, their likes and dislikes. They report their findings back to the class, and we do a lot of laughing and back patting. Then I tell them that this activity was a prelude to learning more, not about each other, but about themselves.
Did they answer each of the questions honestly? Or did they answer selectively, sharing only those things that were “socially acceptable”? Did they avoid painful subjects? Did they choose areas of their lives in which they could put a little icing on the cake? In short, did they choose what to share and not to share in order to look as good as possible?
To help with the process of self-knowledge, I assign some well-tested exercises designed especially for this purpose. Students often tell me later that they thought these would be a waste of time, for they were still holding onto the idea of I know all about myself. But as they did the “Know Yourself Exercises” that I assigned, they were astounded to discover qualities that they had either forgotten about, had never wanted to talk about, or had never realized they had.
Try these writing exercises. Let your imagination lead you into some surprising revelations about yourself.
Writing exercise #1: The Equation
Here is an example:
(This is what you are perceived to be by others.)
swum with dolphins in the sea,
be what you wish you had done. Whether real or imaginary, they lend substance to the