I realize that everyone has their own way of telling a story, and by no means am I saying that this is the only way to write, however I AM saying that this is what I have found works best for myself and several others. When you can get so caught up in the world you’re creating and the lives of the people in it that you don’t even realize you’re writing, your readers will have a hard time realizing it as well.
Time and time again I find myself wondering why a character in a book is doing something that just doesn’t seem to fit their overall persona. Then I realize it’s because the author is forcing them to do it just because they want them to. I’m not an iron-fist kind of overlord. When I write, I’m just a tool for the people inside of my own little world to tell their story through. Sure, I may have created them and the world surrounding them, and even given them purpose and direction. That doesn’t mean I control every little move they make. More often than not, it’s the other way around.
During NaNoWriMo every November, I spend countless nights lying in bed trying to shut out the cries of my characters, each vying for attention and begging me to let them continue to tell their stories. Once I sit down in front of a keyboard, sip my coffee and let my fingers do the work for me, their cries are silenced and a flood of words come pouring forth onto the screen in front of me. Almost like magic.
Once I learned to do this and stopped trying to force my characters along a path that I had predestined for them, page after page, chapter upon chapter, my book started coming together. I was finding myself writing between 5,000 and 10,000 words on an almost-daily basis. (For those of you who have nothing to gauge this on, a 2,000 word day is a productive one!) 10,000 words is something close to 25 pages, depending on spacing, page size, margins, font, etc… So compare that to the papers you wrote in school and you’re probably beginning to see how exciting that was for me to see.
Another thing I found while I was stumbling along through my first draft of my first manuscript is this: Writer’s block is a myth. Your characters aren’t going to just stop doing their things. If you have writer’s block, stop and ask yourself if it’s your story that is stopping you or if you’re stopping yourself. Chances are, you’re trying to force your characters to do something that makes no sense and they’re fighting you tooth and nail. The cure? Relax, close your eyes and let it go. Let them walk the path they want to walk and, again, they’ll do the work for you.
So the next time you sit down to write, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and let the words flow out of you from a place buried so deep that it seems to be outside of you all together. I think you’ll be surprised at how much of yourself you find in your world and your characters even without trying to force them to fit your exact specifications. You might even learn a few things about yourself!