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Character Writing Can Be A Healing Exercise

Writing is like showing your butt to the world. You put everything you are into your writing. But what if you could use this consciously to actually help you heal from the things that you struggle with in life.

When you sit down to write how much to do you think about yourself? Like, actively? As in, how much do you consciously decide to write this story and these characters as a reflection of what you are going through in life? How much of you is in what you write?

When I write, everything that I am is down on the page. But I take it a step further than that. My favorite thing about writing fiction is crafting my characters. This is because when I create a character, I take a huge amount of time and effort crafting them as an extension of myself.

Whatever my idea for a character is I always nail down what aspect of myself reflects that character. I connect them to me intimately. All their habits and tendencies are a reflection of my own. All their pain and struggle a reflection of my own. Their motivations something that I connect to in my own life.

Here is an example of what I mean, I was writing a secondary character who is majorly socially awkward and very intelligent and confident in their abilities mentally just not socially. When I was writing him I spent a lot of time identifying aspects of myself that are, not necessarily socially awkward, but that fear being so. I connected with my feelings of being isolated because that is how he feels a lot of the time. But also, I connected with times in my life where I felt proud of something that I created. So, when he is going through the story I personally am involved in his journey and growth.

To take this even one level deeper, when you write a character that you are connected with in this emotional way, then you can craft their journey and growth in a way that also reflects your own. It makes their development authentic to the reader and also helps you to grow and heal on a personal level.

For example, let’s say you have a villain that likes things a very particular way and if things are out of place he gets furiously angry and lashes out at those around them. Now, no matter what bad things your villain does is not a direct reflection of you but those emotions that he feels are what you need to connect with. So, as you plot out what your novel is going to look like you want to think about his growth in a way that is authentic for how you would grow through those emotions. If his anger ends up being his demise you write that in a way that actually shows him healing his anger or letting go of it. Because whatever part of you that is feeling that anger knows that releasing it is healthy but doesn’t want to.

By writing this out in a way that tells the story and a journey of a character that is both outside and inside you simultaneously helps your brain to heal in a way that doesn’t feel as daunting. You begin to see writing and character creation as a tool. Not just a tool to help the readers but to help you as a writer grow.

I used the character’s I created for my novel to help me heal my trauma from a severely abusive relationship. I cannot even begin to tell you how powerful it was.

Try it out! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using the conscious character creation method.

- There are two parts to every character, who they are and what they are to the story. Both aspects of the character effect each other but I highly recommend starting with the ‘who they are’ side. Once you establish your emotional connection to them you can establish their arc and emotional connections in the story.

- Don’t make the mistake of under complicating yourself. You are a complicated person with so many feelings and experiences. Think of a character you want to create and then find parts of you that align with them. You can change them during this stage as you see fit but don’t think that all your characters will be the same because your aspects are all the same.

They aren’t.

- If you are stuck with a character remember to connect back to what they are feeling. What is their biggest motivation? Why? And then bring that back to one of your life experiences.

- You do not have to force your character to grow for their growth to authentically happen throughout your novel. At the end of the book, because you established such a deep connection with the character, whatever growth they went through in the book whether you initially planned it or not will be reflected in your personal development as well. Authenticity is the key to engagement.

For me this process was so transformative I wrote a book about it. To help people to overcome their largest hurdles through being a character. It has been amazing to see its impact.

And this is just the outside layer of a very layerful onion of conscious character creation. Try it out. See if this is something that helps you. You will be surprised to see how your character grows throughout the writing process. As well as yourself.

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