How to Cope with Character Separation
All authors, indie and traditional, would rather sit at the library, coffee shop, or park and write what’s on their mind while getting paid to do so. Our favorite book characters, usually our mains, we come so close to them throughout this process and working full-time while setting their stories aside is like leaving our own kids if we have any.
Okay, I don’t know what that feeling’s like since I’m childless but I have a general idea. My book characters are, at the very least, closer than siblings and best friends. Leaving them to one day tell the world about them, from all four corners of the globe, well, that’s more than possible.
It’s something every author, indie or traditional, should strive for.
Our characters make our work, something we worked long and hard on, and have breathed life into these compelling people we’ve come to love.
People we’ll do anything and everything for, including making a sacrifice, so they can be known to thousands or for a lucky few of us, millions of readers.
It’s time away from our writing and editing, meaning time away from the people we’ve brought to life.
We want to focus on our writing, but life has other ideas, as it always does.
For some of us, working forty, fifty, sixty hours a week five to six days keeps us separated from our characters for long periods of time.
It’s why finding time to write each day is so important.
I consider myself lucky, as I’m relatively close to my job and can write and edit in the morning before my workday begins at nine. I can be up at five, eat breakfast, write or edit for two hours, then bolt for work.
I also work in a field where I’m at work when no one else is.
Because of this, I get an extended lunch break, about two and a half hours. Get a good workout in and a little more writing during this time and I’m set.
But not everyone gets this and I’m truly aware.
So, my tip here is to always set your alarm clock an hour earlier or stay up later to get your writing in. I know you’re tired and stress at work might have your mind elsewhere, but shouldn’t writing and editing (I personally love editing) be an escape?
Hey, you can sleep and continue to dream or you can wake up and make that dream a reality.
Bring Your Book or Manuscript with You
If you love your book characters as if they’re family, and you should, bring a copy of your book with you. If you haven’t published yet, don’t worry; print your manuscript and take it to work with you.
You can read on your lunch breaks, even if it’s only a half-hour. But again, talk about ultimate stress relief from your day job. You’re able to do something important to you and it’s positive while your co-workers and peers continually complain about life.
And who knows, maybe that book will make you a full-time living one day and you will be writing in libraries, coffee shops, and parks, among other places.
You can read, edit, and if you’re allowed a laptop, you can even write some more. If you’ve an hour lunch break, write for thirty to forty-five minutes and boom, your character separation has been combatted twice; once in the morning, once in the afternoon.
Sure, they’re small tidbits of your day. Thirty minutes here, forty-five minutes there, but you’re also going to have all evening to work, too.
Yes, use your weekends to your advantage. I work a truncated schedule on weekends; only until mid-to-late afternoon, giving me all evening to work on my next books that will soon be released.
For you, you might have this time free. If so, take advantage of those weekends. Even if you’re working so many hours a week that you can’t find time to write or spend quality time with your characters (editing and bringing these babies to life!), use your weekends.
Come on, you have either Saturday or Sunday. Even a few friends of mine who work twelve-hour shifts in distribution centers on weekends have time to pursue their passions and hobbies.
And you do, too.
Even if you have activities scheduled each weekend, utilize the same tips I mentioned above regarding your workdays. Wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour or two later. You do have time to make this happen and it will happen, trust me.
Book Character Separation Isn’t Permanent
No, it isn’t permanent and that’s something to remember!
Instead, it’s all about working around your daily schedule to find time to improve your manuscript and continue to bring these characters you’ve created to life.
Sometimes, it is tough to leave these characters as we go off and do adult things like work, and whatever other commitment we’re obligated to.
But, remember that if we’re motivated enough, and read that line again if you’re prone to making excuses after having good intentions, we can and will find time to attend to our characters as they make our stories.
Again, they’re a part of us.
For me, it’s Cain, Lira, Taj, Savannah, and the rest of the Northern Knights gang.
For a long time I was able to dedicate almost full-time attention to these cats, but now, things won’t be the same and separation anxiety is real.
But, as all motivated writers and authors do, we come prepared. What I’ve outlined above to my readers is a little blueprint I’m using to stave off such separation, and you can, too.
Now it’s your turn. Put this blueprint into action and stick to it. Something tells me that you’ll be more than glad you did. And remember, if you put the time, effort, and dedication into your work, it’ll become a full-time gig.
If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns, I’d be more than glad to hear from you! Feel free to comment and keep the conversation going!