I’m making another post about defence mechanisms in writing, since there are so many you can use. We barely covered the beginning of them last post, so we’re going to improve our novels a little more.
I really recommend taking a psychology course to anyone who is serious about writing.Psychology really opens your eyes to the things that make great stories great because it is all about people. Why we do what we do and what these things can lead to… In our stories, characters are what drive the plot forward a lot of the time. Learning more about people and their psych really helps to make the interactions between characters move the way we want them to in a believable way.
Our first defence mechanism for this post is Projection. Projection is when someone puts what unacceptable/stressful feelings they have onto someone else. It’s different from displacement, but it sounds a lot like it. I’ll go back to the example of John liking Sarah.
In displacement, John might start dating someone else and put his feelings toward Sarah onto another girl. He might also get his feelings out by snapping at someone or yelling at someone who has no place in the whole John-Sarah situation, like a waiter or cashier.
In projection, John would act differently. He would put his feelings into someone else. If John liked Sarah, he might say, “Oh, she wants me.” He would claim that she likes him, when really, he likes her.
Then there is our second defence mechanism of the post, rationalization. Rationalization is when a person tries to explain or justify their unacceptable or stress-causing situation by using facts or reasonable justifications. Say you get a really bad grade on a test. Instead of reacting badly to it, you might try to rationalize it. you might say, “Everyone failed that test.”
Finally, there is sublimation. Sublimation is the best and only effective defence mechanism. This is when you take your anxiety-causing feelings or thoughts and put them towards something productive and acceptable. Say John has feelings for Sarah and Sarah is dating someone else. She’s taken, so there’s nothing he can do about it. Instead of going after her, he might put his feelings and thoughts into a book that he then publishes.
This is where the good in creative-outlets come into play. Art, writing, sports, studying, work. All of these can be the result of sublimation. I know that all of you writers out there have probably worked something out for yourself through your writing, without even knowing it. That’s sublimation. Remember, it is all unconscious. So you won’t even realize you are doing it until you go back and look at your story with a magnifying glass.
My challenge for you is to try and apply one of these defence mechanisms in your writing. Find a spot in your story where one of these would fit and think about how it might enhance your story. How it might drive the plot forward or fill a gap. How it could make the story feel more real to both you and the reader. How it could cause drama in the story, between characters. you don’t have to use it, but think about it. If not, maybe you decide to put it into your next story.
Either way, good luck!
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!