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Self-examination sheds light on a writers motives, goals, and aspirations, while self indulgence hide the obvious and absorbs any illumination before it occurs.

When a writer exams his motives, goals, and aspirations, he opens up new viewpoints because he or she sees other avenues to writing; perhaps the short story writer can see a novel develop from the theme of a short story, or an article to clarify that subject matter. Poetry might follow from the passion and fervor of the story. Then again the reverse may happen; the poet sees a short story or even a novel from a poem. The possibilities are unlimited if the writer examines honestly his purpose, his objective, and his motivation. Is the purpose financial, fame, or personal satisfaction? With this clarity, comes the energy to pursue writing with more vigor and enthusiasm, with more diversity and a broader outlook, and with more devotion and direction.

Once a writer examines the reason for writing, then the direction becomes clearer and more aware. If the writer is more concerned with the financial aspect then the pursuit becomes more focused; one writer will choose a writing career between freelance and employment. Also the writer's personality will help to decide on the course of action necessary to further a career. Freelance writers are more independent, more risk taking, perhaps more confident of ability, while the employed writer likes the assurance that a regular pay check brings, is partial to the motivation of a deadline, and feels more comfortable with that.

Whether the writer is employed or freelances, honest self-examination will open up a feeling of connecting with others, will make him or her relate more to others. Self-examination will bring about a clearer understanding of how readers will respond to the written word. This extroversion expands the writer's knowledge, awareness of others, and makes the writing greater and thus a better writer.

Another plus for the writer is that self-examination clarifies all aspects of writing from the mechanics to the essence or spirit of the writing. Syntax, punctuation, spelling, and format become more important as the text improves. As the text improves so does the concentration on the attitude become greater and the writer grows in depth and profundity. This growth can be observed in the writing of the great authors, poets, playwrights, and lyricists

On the other hand self-indulgence confuses because belief that one has arrived and is good enough are the convictions of the tolerant and the non-judgmental. Self-examination requires judgment and decision while self-indulgence relies on lenience and indecision. The self-indulgent do not place restrictions and limits on themselves, but accept mediocrity as adequate.

Self-examination fosters excellence; self-indulgence promotes mediocrity.

Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and BEd in English literature. He has written several novels based on Canadian history.

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