Psychology in Writing: The Ego – Writing Process

Writing Process


English: Illustration of a knight in Gothic ar...

English: Illustration of a knight in Gothic armor from Concilium zu Constanz woodcut (digitized page 34 of 509) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When we write the Ego is the voice of our character.  Our characters’ may voice their inner struggles with the Id, the Super Ego, and reality, but we rarely hear those voices, we only see how they’re manifested through the Ego.  We usually want our protagonists to have a high level of Ego strength; the protagonist may struggle with their individual choices, but they will ultimately make a choice.  Sometimes, because of the unconscious forces, that the protagonist is not aware of s/he will make a wrong choice, such as striving towards an unrealistic ideal that ends in defeat or foregoing her/his goal for selfish reasons, but this failure and recovery is part of the protagonist’s growing process in the narrative.  Part of our protagonist’s growth is recognizing these unconscious influences so that s/he can overcome them.  As I discussed a previous blog post, Oedipus’ downfall was his lack of insight into himself; our protagonists need to develop their own insight so that they can succeed.


Our lesser characters may struggle more with having a weak Ego strength.  These characters may hold back the protagonist or latch on her/him because of their Ego strength as a counterbalance to their own personality.  These characters may serve as foils, introducing doubts or distractions into the protagonist’s progress, such as being an overly moral or an overly selfish voice.  The protagonist demonstrates her/his strength by either helping raise the other characters up to be able to work towards a common goal, or by being able to tune out the other voices and focus on the internal voice.


As the writer of the protagonist, we can think of ourselves as the Ego voice of our characters.  We are acutely aware of what are character should do, what our character wants to do, and what is possible.  The Ego strength of our character flows from us, and allows us to make choices to spur our protagonists on.  In our writing process, we should be paying attention to the choices that we have to make for our protagonist, and to watch that we are not making the easy choice because of our own struggles in making the hard choice.



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