I had a great last week, writers. Instead of working on a few chapters of my novel that I’ve been circling around and trudging through for the past month, I was finally able to skip ahead to a different chapter, one from a different character’s perspective. It was refreshing to write in another character’s voice, one that is much more practical and less dreamy than my hero, more impatient with the world, more eager to solve problems. The pages flew by, and by the weekend I had completed a first draft of a chapter I’d only started days prior.
So what changed? What gave me gumption and will? I think this week’s experience can teach us all a lesson about keeping things fresh in our creative lives. Instead of being mired in one character you don’t understand, try writing a scene or a chapter from another perspective. First, it will give you a chance to stretch some different muscles; you’ll be able to change up the tone, the use of verbs, the concerns that you’d been working so hard to keep consistent before this. It feels fun again to try getting into a new mind.
Second, you’ll be able to finally see and feel things that your main character is unable to see and feel. You can finally discover what that troubled-looking marriage looks like from the inside. You can see what that neglected kid is feeling or understand the person who is getting ignored.
And third, and possibly most importantly, you’ll be able to gain new insight into your main character. By writing from the point of view of my hero’s brother, I was suddenly able to see her from this close relative’s eyes. I was able to see how she presented herself to the world and what she struggled to do. I was able to understand her faults and her desires much better. Writing from the perspective of this other character has galvanized me to write about my main character again — and I’ll be returning to her with greater understanding.