Maybe it’s just the two lattes I’ve had today, but I feel strangely energetic for five in the afternoon. Then again, maybe it’s all the stuff that has gone so right today.
I only managed a few hundred words on my manuscript today, but I’m alright with that. I’m wearing a cute sundress today, colorful and very summery – so that might be part of my good mood. Also part of this sunny mood is my friend Emily, with whom I had an encouraging conversation this morning over my first latte. Add to all of this an interesting opportunity that has fallen my way (totally unrelated to writing, but interesting nonetheless…I may or may not take it). I’m feeling good.
I have a little journal with (what else?) owls on the cover. I love it, and scrawl in it all the personal things I can’t say here, or am not ready to say here. The things I wrote today are one of the big reasons I feel so energetic: today, I made a point to remember why I am writing a novel. And you know what? I have a pretty good reason to write. I uncovered reasons I didn’t even realize existed, underlying currents that move through the blood of my characters.
Now, these thoughts went in the owl journal for a reason, and I’m not about to divulge them all. Not yet, anyway – I kind of feel like they’re my little secrets, pockets of burning energy, similar to the buzzing you feel when you write a first draft and no one knows a single name of any of your characters.
Suffice it to say I filled nine pages without hesitation, nine pages of black cursive words that made me fall back in love with, and identify with, my characters. Even the most nasty ones, I want – I need – to tell their stories.
Believe me, I needed to fill those nine pages more than I realized. I scrapped the entire last chapter I’d written because it bored me, then started to rebuild it. After my little journaling exercise, I can almost hear my characters’ hearts beating, see their tears, and carry on a conversation. Now, they’re jumping off the page again instead of sitting, tame, in the stiff wooden chairs I chained them to.
The most important thing I’ve taken away from this: you cannot do this just once. You’ve got to do it a lot, as much as it takes to keep their skin soft and their screams loud.
I felt this in tune with my characters when I started this draft, but here I am, only a couple months into it, and I needed a reminder. Fortunately, I figured it out sooner rather than later, and am able to infuse life to my little heroes again.
Regardless of how close you feel to your characters right now, it’s motivating to take a step outside the minutiae and remind yourself of the big picture. If you bend in and listen, you might just uncover secrets about characters and scenes that emerged from your own brain, but have kept themselves hidden the whole time.
You could write anything, but you’re pouring hours, days, months into this project. Taking a step back to remember why you’re writing this book can make you feel like you are able to – and will – conquer the world, one word at a time.