The self-awareness project is an opportunity to reflect upon the depth of your experience in the course. How did it go? What happened? What did you notice? What was difficult – or great? What does your experience suggest to you about what comes next in your own development as a creative person?

The self-awareness project is fairly simple. It does not have to be super long or involved (but it can be, if you like). Use your notes from the course activities. Add some general reflections. Think about your personal reactions, insights, and ideas in response to the course. Here are a few possible themes to explore:

  • What do your experiences in this class teach you about your own creativity?
  • What was surprising or interesting about a given experience in this class?
  • When do you notice yourself having the most difficulty in this class?
  • What is most joyful about being in this class?
  • What memories, thoughts, or feelings are evoked by your experiences in this class?
  • What has your experience in this class taught you about your own challenges in personal development?

As usual, the structure of this project is flexible. You can include as much as you like: thoughts, reflections, ideas, implications, insights, or anything that might help you to deepen your creativity and understand your life.

If you’d like a few further considerations for this project, consult the list below; it shows the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that lead to good self-reflection and self-awareness:

  • Willingness to take appropriate risks and to challenge oneself
  • Willingness to try new things, especially when doing so provokes discomfort
  • Openness to personal and interpersonal process
  • Willingness to collaborate with others
  • Consideration of and responsiveness to others
  • Willingness to examine personal values, beliefs, and judgments
  • Ability to take personal responsibility and initiative for learning
  • Willingness to approach the craft of creative writing as a skill with discrete steps and standards
  • Commitment to improvement in writing and creative work
  • Ability to be open and responsive to appropriate feedback

How long? Good question. How long do you think? If you have committed to the process of this class in any meaningful way, you will have some reactions and emotions about your experience. How many words would it take you to describe and express these reactions and feelings? How much detail would you need to include in order to give a decent snapshot of your overall experience? Would you need more than a hundred words? For sure. Five hundred? More, probably. More than a thousand? Maybe. More than a million words? Probably not that much. See how it goes. As you will have understood by now, word count is not even a remotely helpful guide to the quality or effectiveness of writing (see the Tao Te Ching, for example: one of the world’s greatest and shortest works of literature). Writing is as long as it needs to be.

If you get stuck with this assignment, feel free to reach out to ask questions. But really, getting stuck is part of the process. Getting unstuck is how you activate your creativity.

The self-awareness project is due at the end of the third month and is worth 20 percent of your grade. Submit this project via email (do not create a new page in the Lab unless you want to share your project publicly.)

A Note of Caution

You can write about anything you want (as usual). But please consider that any subject that is challenging for you to talk about openly (such as personal trauma) is a subject you should probably not write about — especially on a public platform such as this. On the other hand, powerful personal experiences often provide excellent source material for writing, so it may be difficult for you to decide what to do. First, please use your judgment about how best to keep yourself emotionally safe within and beyond the classroom. Second, please discuss your plans (or your concerns) with me if you decide to write about personal or provocative subjects. In particular, be cautious of subjects involving violence, abuse, trauma, death, mental illness, and related themes (whether they happened to you, happened to someone else, or are imagined). These subjects reliably activate strong emotions and are often unsafe if not handled properly. While no subject is absolutely off-limits in this class, there are many subjects for which there is a risk of harm to you, to me, to others in the class, or to our shared communities. We must be respectful and careful of ourselves and our relationships with others. Please ask me for guidance if you are uncertain.

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your effects…I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do…there is only one single way. Go into yourself.