But here’s the thing, even when we don’t think we’re writing about ourselves, we are. And when we do so unknowingly, the writing gets harder. Sure, your character is more interesting because they’re actually dealing with real issues, but you have to be willing to deal with those issues yourself before you can get your character to.
Case in point: Spark, the infamous never finished but always mentioned short story. I finally realized why I’m having such a hard time moving forward with it and putting it to bed. I don’t have the issues that I had when I started it. Sounds pompous, right? Hear me out.
Spark came to me one night as I crept into bed after a long day’s work. I snuggled up to my wife, placed my hand on her belly and tried to feel my son dreaming away inside her. Like most writers, I had a dream of my own. That dream led to Spark, where a young man, too afraid of the commitment, challenges, and responsibilities of having a child causes the death of his unborn daughter. The story is his quest for retribution.
Here I am over a year and a half later working on a revision to the ending and I can’t think like that frightened father-to-be anymore. Not only am I Dad, I’m Stay-At-Home-Dad. I spend more time with my son than most moms get these days, let alone dads. And you can call me conceited on this one if you want, but I’m a damn good dad. At this very moment I’m watching a baby monitor while my boy sleeps and though he’s three rooms away, were he to pop up and make a move for the edge of the bed, I’d be there before he could fall. (LOL, he must have heard me thinking because he just woke up. Don’t worry, he’s fine, just needed to know I was nearby and went back to sleep.)
I’ll eventually be able to put myself into that frame of mind and playact what it was like, but I fear that it won’t be as powerful. But that's what's holding me back, fearing that I won't speak truth to the character any longer.
And what about the other instance, the one where you don’t even realize you’re writing about yourself? You know your character’s problems, what holds them back, what they have to deal with, but you can’t write it. It could be that one of the reasons you can’t deal with your character’s issues is because yours and theirs are one in the same.
Have you considered that? Have you looked at your character’s flaws and considered that they might be your own? Are you ready to deal with those flaws in your own life so that you can write your story? Maybe that’s not you, but it is definitely something to consider.
One last thing. A little patting myself on the back. This marks my 100th post and come Friday this will be my 15th straight week without missing a post. So yay me. I shall celebrate by poring cement, preparing dinner, washing clothes, washing dishes, and writing another blog post. :)