If you were to open a book half way through and read a couple pages you’d be confused.
Why is the main character so angry? Why do they love this person even though it’s clearly unhealthy? Why are they so emotionally numb? Why do they always attract people that will only hurt them?
Why, why, why…
You’d have a lot of questions, understandably.
Our lives are like books; at least that is what all the motivational quotes tell us.
Well, if my life is a book then I wrote most of it while I was barely conscious, too young to understand it, or too apathetic to care.
Now I’m trying to write an epic story about conquering my goals and living the life of my dreams, but I’m having trouble understanding my main character. Me.
Every time I try to write the next chapter about him finding real love, living with purpose, finding integrity, or evolving to the next phase of his life he does things that I don’t understand. Some small mishap occurs and he misses just short of his goal, or he hits a slump for no reason.
Why does he have trouble praising himself for his good qualities? Why does he feel the need to please everyone around him, regardless if it is the right thing to do? Why does he always need to be moving towards a goal, but he can never be satisfied with anything he’s accomplished so far?
Recently I’ve been looking through those old pages in my book. They are messy, cryptic, nonsensical, and hard to read. It feels like a waste of time.
“I could be focusing on crafting the rest of this book. I just need to stay focused on writing it better!”
But after a little reading I find something that happened to the main character, and suddenly it becomes so obvious why he acts one way or the other. Now I can write with that in mind, and those mishaps can be avoided.
Our main characters have all suffered some tragedy or trauma. They all unconsciously come up with ways to cope or avoid. These coping mechanisms create cycles that guide our stories without our knowledge.
If you look back at your story you can see why you keep doing the same things. You can see why you attract certain relationships, why you use certain emotions as a crutch, why you have the attitude that you do, and why you have dysfunction in your life.
Most of us are afraid of looking back and reliving the things that made us who we are. We keep our eyes set forward because we are running from something.
In our stories, going forward is the only place we can hide. So we keep furiously writing, hoping everything will work out.
But you’ve been writing your book for many years, maybe it’s time to take a pause and read.
Once you understand the characters, their relationships; the cycles, their causes, and your backstory…
You can finish writing an epic tale that no one will forget.