As writers, we tend to be naturally voracious readers, meaning over the years we have experienced many difficult situations through the perspective of characters: intergalactic space battles between the forces of good and evil (Star Wars). The ruthlessness of Panem’s game arena (Hunger Games). Even shape-shifting clowns in sewers (IT) and pets that don’t stay on their side of the rainbow bridge (Pet Semetary). We’ve also written story after story where our characters are thrust outside their comfort zones and given problems they have no idea how to solve.
So why do we have such a fascination with adversity? Are we a hopelessly deviant lot, enjoying putting the screws to our characters? Are we acting out frustrations from the real world? Maybe. But I believe this fascination is really about something else…hope.
We hope that in our own life journeys, when faced with a crisis, point of pain, or situation with no easy answers, we too will find a way through it.
The biggest challenge we have to navigate right now is Covid. Reality was upended when it came along, it caused anxiety to blossom, and we’re all trying to pivot to find a route forward where we can live safely.
It’s been a lot to handle.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and let fear take over.
Easy to feel pessimistic. Easy to lose hope.
If I can offer an idea for us all, it might be to ask, WWOCD: What would our characters do?
Let’s look to the protagonists that hold us in thrall, the ones who choose hope over fear. Perspective over panic. Those who seek knowledge, think creatively and marshal their internal strengths. Characters who dig deep, find their resolve, and then put one foot in front of the other until they are finally on the other side.
Like our characters discover in the story, we too are stronger and more adaptable than we might believe.
Each of us has experienced painful ups and downs, challenges and struggles. We got through those because we had the courage to face what comes and the self-belief to act. So in trying times, let’s make sure HOPE is always our North Star.
As we ride through uncertainty and what comes with it, it can be easy to feel alone. But remember that we are all part of one of the most amazing communities in the world. We writers bond online in groups, social media feeds, and forums, talking about characters, books, and the writing path. We can help each other through many things by staying connected. For example, Becca and I are in many places on social media. Please reach out if you need to!
My friend Jami Gold has a terrific post on how to move forward as writers, manage stress, and connect with the outside world even when we’re stuck at home. She’s brought together fun things to experience online and things to do together as a family. I urge you to pop by and to pass on the link to others who will find these ideas helpful.