[MZ] Monday Zen ~ The Root of Suffering

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“Not getting what we want. Getting what we do not want. This is the root of all suffering.”

~ Pema Chodron, a Tibetan nun

(Commentary on the Chapter on Patience: The Way of the Bodhisattva)

 

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[MZ] Monday Zen ~ WHO is your character?

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“It’s not about following all the rules; it’s about hitting the right story…. Editors want to laugh and cry and cheer on your hero and heroine. That’s what sells.” ~ Anonymous

“Dig deep.

And I start to bang my head on the keyboard.

If you are a writer, you are aware of the love/hate relationship writers often have with the process of “digging deep.” The relentless quest to create a character the readers will care about and fall in love with.

After all there are more pleasant things to be done, right? Perhaps the laundry, dishes, oh and that visit to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years (for a very good reason).  Almost anything is better than writing sometimes, right?

The truth is when we do hit that note, when we do get it “right”, it’s exhilarating, as if we’ve just climbed Mt. Everest. Well, recently, I took my Regency WIP apart in my attempt to undertake the daunting task of digging deep.

Sometimes we are stuck in our own world view and ideas that we can’t see the solution that’s right in front of us.

I decided to work one-on-one with an amazing teacher/writer to help me with this process. It required me to sit with the unknown, to dig deep and ask the hard questions: Why do I want to write this story? What is it about? Who are my characters?

This process can be a very frustrating experience, but when you “get it”, it can be very enlightening.

I have to say, during my own process of digging deep, I have discovered not only what drives my characters, but why it is so important to me to tell this story.

But trying to figure all this out on your own can be quite challenging. And over the years, I’ve gain some “tools” to help me free my mind and to allow my inhibitions to melt away so that I can dig deep.

1. MUSIC

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Not just any music, but songs that evoke particular emotions you want to convey in your scene. I can’t write with the music on in the back ground, but I do listen to them when I need to fuel my energy and extract certain emotional intensity for a particular scene I am writing. I think it frees up inhibitions.

Do you have a list? What are they?

2. Meditate on your character

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What does meditation have to do with writing, you may ask?

Why not?

We meditate on our own inner workings, out thoughts, the negative emotions that often keep us stuck, so why not meditate on our characters?

Mediation is a way to center yourself and to connect with the physical world around us. It allows your clouded thoughts and judgments to melt away and simply be in the moment.

Sit with your character, allow your own fears and inhibitors to all melt away. The answer you’ve been seeking may come to you when you aren’t struggling to find the answer, when your mind is free to explore.

You know how it is. You may be taking a shower, driving somewhere, or taking a walk and BOOM, an idea hits you and you GET it…the ahhh moment.

If you already have a sitting practice, you may tweak it to apply your method to your characters. Ask the question, “Who are you (your character)?” then sit and allow it to go where it leads.

3. Journal in first person

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Sometimes I write a journal for each character in first person. This allows you to get under his/her skin and find out who they are, their motivations, conflicts, and character flaws.

You will be amazed what comes to you.

I usually start with a question. You can write it down or not, it is up to you. Then see where it leads, let the character speak through you. Or I may free write and simply let the character speak through me.

Try it out and see what works for you. 

Please share your writing process, I’d love it hear about it.

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