What Characters Can Teach Writers About Life
As writers, we grow by the process of pouring out story, rewriting, sifting feedback, making decisions, and listening to our gut instincts. And while we mature in our craft, we also mature in spirit. We’re a privileged bunch: we have access to these great mentors we call “Characters.” We spend enormous amounts of time in their lives, watching, listening, and seeing the consequences of their decisions. But have you ever reflected on what they’ve taught you as a human being?
If you’ve read my articles on characters, then you know I believe they exist in a realm of their own, they exert a realistic presence to the writer, one that we try to capture and convey to audiences. They are not figments of imagination or made up or invented. And they deserve respect. One, for their courage in making themselves utterly vulnerable to us as indecisive, insecure, sometimes annoyingly demanding writers; and two, because they often have very tough stories to carry and work through. If you ever dare think that characters are there just to serve you as a writer or are a means to facilitate your writing career, you better think twice. Because you’re missing out on a huge blessing.
Characters give back to us as much as we give to them. And if we pay attention, we can end up not just being better writers because of them, but better people, too.
So what have I learned from the characters who have come into my writing world?
- Be bold in going after what you want. Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you know in your heart is right for you.
- Move. Take action. When you run into an obstacle, find a way around or through it; whatever you do, keep moving toward your goal.
- Let yourself be vulnerable enough to trust someone implicitly.
- You’re stronger than you think you are. Always.
- The tough times in life aren’t without purpose.
- Healing happens when someone deeply listens and affirms that your pain matters. (Sometimes you have to be that person to yourself.)
- Giving up isn’t an option. Letting go sometimes is.
- Silence is the loudest form of communication.
- There is more grace out there for us than we know.
- We don’t have time to waste. Life is now.
What have you learned from your characters? Comment and let’s explore.