Voices are constantly competing for attention within a writer. The author not only battles his own, but he must also frequently face the voices and opinions of those around him, as well as the fictional ones he’s created. These voices can be beneficial, but they can also be distracting at times.
I recently sat down to write in my book-in-progress and instantly found myself pulled in many different directions. As I fought the temptation to procrastinate, I turned on the soundtrack to Dances with Wolves and I tried to focus.
Today I’m trying to establish my main character, but I can’t seem to find her voice. Everyone else seems to be talking except her.
“You should be washing those dishes,” says my inner conscience – aka the guilty housewife. 😉
“I’m leaving for town now,” calls my husband after he kisses my forehead and heads out the door.
Why, even the main man of my story has plenty to say and is practically writing his own contribution, bordering on stealing the whole story for himself.
Everyone has something to say, except my lovely protagonist. Why can I see so many pieces of the puzzle and yet not see her clearly? It’s strange how you can miss someone you don’t even fully know yet.
Does this ever happen to you? Do your own ideas for a story hit you all at once or do they form together slowly, piece by piece like a puzzle? Don’t you get impatient and ever wish you could just have the complete story upfront? I know I do.
Here’s some guidelines I like to stick to as I wait on my character currently MIA. We must never forget there is always a lesson in the Lord’s timing. Maybe if you’re anything like me, these might help you too.
-Write While You Wait
I may not know her side of the story yet, but I have plenty of ideas for my other characters. Sometimes a detour must be taken. Write what’s in your head, free those thoughts, and maybe the rest will follow.
-Read Your Heart Out
This one is a classic remedy we can’t afford to take for granted. Since I’m writing historical fiction, it helps me to read historical accounts, diaries, newspapers, anything really that will spur the imagination. Looking through original photographs of the time period always helps too. For my particular genre, there is no such thing as too much research. It can only add informative layers to your plot and you might just discover a real person, story, or incident that inspires the idea you were lacking.
-Free Your Mind
I’ve got a drawer in my office where I store all my little sticky notes of random ideas and every time I open it up, I’m excited, inspired, and overwhelmed all at the same time. Occasionally, though, a break is needed. Turn on some music. Get some exercise. Grab a snack. Call a friend. Or take a nap. Your mind might need to rest a little. Stop over-thinking things and you might just be surprised how naturally your story comes together.
-Be Still Before God
We must never stop seeking the Lord’s direction and wisdom in our writing. He is sovereign over all things, including our clouded minds and our obstinate stories. Above all else, we must wait on Him.
For now, I will continue to pray and hope fervently, waiting on God to bring my invisible character out of hiding. I know she’s there somewhere and I can’t wait to meet her.
What about you? Are you struggling with an elusive character in your own story?
What is your secret to surviving writer’s block?