I need to be alone to create, whether I’m alone in the sense that there’s no one here with me, or alone with myself and my thoughts in the middle of a crowd. As long as I’m able to center myself within my mind, I can enter my world and create.
However, times come when I can’t be alone or I’ll go crazy. Most humans need interaction with others and being a writer doesn’t really make me that different from everyone else.
I get lonely sometimes, when I look up from my computer and realize I’m not part of the world I’ve created. I’m not a character. I don’t live in that world.
The real world beckons.
There are writers who will tell you they never have problems separating themselves from the characters they create. Good for them. I’m not sure I always believe them, but who am I to say what goes on in another writer’s mind?
If I couldn’t become the characters I create, how can I be sure their actions and reactions are genuine? Because for me, creating a character is about more than writing down a set of actions and saying that’s what happened. The dispassionate observer will always make different choices than the one made by the person who’s actually in the moment.
This is why I believe a synopsis written before-hand will almost always lead you astray.
I become my characters and I write as if I were in the situation I’ve created, and my ideas come when I move about the room, talk to my friends and my enemies, see the things around me. I translate what I see and what I do into words and write them down.
This is the reason why I don’t think out my story before I create. This is the reason I have to be alone. When others are talking to me or interrupting me, I can’t be someone else. I have to be me.
But then the time comes for me to leave my world and re-enter the real world. Because a solitary writer doesn’t have to be a solitary person–can’t be, if authenticity of character is important.
The way people behave changes as society changes. A good writer has to stay on top of those changes so their characters are reflective of real people. Every person you write should have some basis from someone real. Only then can you write characters that real people care about.
The things real people do are great story fodder.
I don’t always want to be the characters I create, but there’s a strange joy in figuring out why someone has done something.
If you’ve hit a stumbling block with your story, think about your characters.
- Are they making genuine decisions or are you forcing some issue?
- Are you becoming that character in their moment of crisis or are you playing puppeteer?
- Is your character boring you?
- Have you reached a point where you don’t want to be the person you’ve created?
These questions can help you, if you think hard and are honest with your answers.
There are times when a writer must be solitary, but don’t assume you should always keep yourself locked up in a creative state. Sometimes you just need to listen and learn from the people around you, so that your ideas can flow freely.
(Comments on this topic are welcomed.)