When I work with a writer who is struggling to finish a novel—or struggling just to get through it—the first question I ask is about their characters. Specifically, how do they feel about their characters? The answers are always surprising.
More writers than not tell me that they have an “uncomfortable” relationship with their characters. Much of the time, their main character especially is too similar to them for their liking. The writer is worried their novel is turning into a memoir. Or, they worry that everyone will easily see the main character as a thinly-veiled representation of the writer.
Some of the time though, it goes in the opposite direction. The character the writer is working with appears to be too different for them to feel comfortable writing about them. They might have a very different race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, or set of morals than the writer. Writing scenes with this character in mind leaves the writer feeling a little weird.
In both cases, I find that the writer ends up distancing themselves from their characters. However, they think that the character is the one doing the distancing. They complain that the character seems to have “left them” or “gone away.” The voice that was once strong has now faded and is very faint, if it has not altogether disappeared.
What’s actually happening is that the writer is the one doing the pushing away, and they’re doing this because the character is resonating with some deeply buried part of themselves that is in need of healing. In these instances, the best thing we can do is to embrace being uncomfortable and open ourselves up to what this character is trying to tell us.
It’s hard to figure all this out on your own, but there are very specific strategies you can use to reconnect with characters (or connect for the first time if you’ve never written fiction before). I talk more about this in the video below:
I’m hosting an online retreat THIS weekend called Radical Creativity, and I just added a bonus workshop to the roster of creativity workshops we’ve got going on. I’ll be teaching this bonus workshop myself. It’s called:
We’ll be diving deep into a few different methods you can use at any time to open the creative channel, connect with characters who are waiting to speak to you, and activate your own healing process.
All workshops will also be recorded and made available for streaming, so if you can’t make it in person, you won’t miss a thing. In addition to my workshop, we’ve got workshops on:
There are only a couple more days left to sign up, so if you know you want in, jump on it while there is still time:
And if you have any questions, please send them my way here.
See you at the retreat!
Lauren Sapala is the author of The INFJ Writer and The INFJ Revolution. She is also currently offering a free copy of her book on creative marketing for INFJ and INFP writers to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers.