Trapped (?) in the Head of Another

5:30 AM.

So it’s day 162738373 of a completely wrecked sleep schedule, and because my mind is going mad from sleep deprivation, I figured I’d write about someone else’s for a change.

I’m currently writing a character whose world is drastically different from mine. To make matters worse, she is also drastically different from me.

I say worse, but I have a habit of writing characters drastically different from me, not only in terms of gender/age/ethnicity, but also morality, opinion, viewpoint.

I honestly prefer it. I find it can be refreshing and informative to step into this other consciousness, to gaze through eyes who see differently from mine. It affords a unique way of looking at the world, especially when they’re not from this world.

The character I’m writing is from a short story I wrote awhile back, which I am now turning into a Novella, and while the story she’s set in is filled with plenty of weird things, ultimately it is the way she thinks, and sees herself and other people, that is weird—and it is her weirdness that I find so freeing.

It’s fun to lose yourself in someone else, to take on problems that aren’t your own, but are in fact your character’s to solve. One of my favorite things about writing creatively in general (fiction specifically) is that it can liberate us from the entrapment of our own problems. By stepping into another character’s head, we take on their consciousness, their world (and, you guessed it, their problems!) and are forced to approach things differently than we otherwise would when dealing with our own.

It’s fun. It’s freeing.

Somehow by solving someone else’s problems, we feel we are solving are own; we taste a bit of that joy, and feel a semblance of that sense of relief.

Recently I read Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and found myself relishing in Coraline’s ability to solve her own problems. It may sound strange, but I almost felt apart of it. Whether it be because I remembered something important that happened earlier on in the story, or because I agreed with Coraline’s judgements of her situation, or because I cheered her on throughout it, I felt like I was there, that I was somehow helping this character solve their own problems.

And it felt good. It felt good to be helpful.

Lately, I’ve almost felt like I can’t help myself. I’ve feel powerless. I’ve felt as if I’m trapped in my own problems. But writing has helped, writing always helps, and so I’ll continue to do so. I know I need to more.

I suppose in a weird way we do help when we write. In a way, we help free characters from their problems.

And perhaps a little part of us is in there, being freed too.

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