It’s not easy being a writer. We find ourselves drawn to tweed based outfits, berets, Twitter, book shops and attractive notebooks. We stare into space a lot, walk around with pencils permanently tucked behind our ears, get excited over word counts, cover our walls in post it notes and lose ourselves while reading books.
One of the many problems we face is that our fictional characters can multiply inside our head at an alarming rate. Writers often talk about too having many new story ideas but for some of us (me included) it’s too many new characters.
Once a writer has caught the writing bug; written several stories, have a story they are working on and be entertaining a few new story ideas on the side, their head can sound more like a railway station at rush hour.
Head overcrowding is not the only issue, fictional characters can also be noisy, disruptive and demanding. Some fictional characters will sit quietly and await their turn but some (you know the characters I am talking about) will make getting your full attention their main focus in life.
I have found that my head gets crowded when I am stuck on my current project. It’s like my mind flings open its doors, invites everyone in and i then become like a child in a toy shop; bright eyed and excited at all story possibilities these new characters bring.
The big question for me recently has been how do you go through daily life with too many characters living inside your head?
After a bit of research I have come up with the following:
Know when you have an overcrowding problem. I know my head is too full and a good indicator of this is my work rate. Mine has slowed because I am getting distracted with the noisy crowd of fictional folk inside my head.
If you are not working on their story these characters have to go elsewhere – a folder on your laptop or a paper file. This is a tough one for me but I know this is the answer to a clearer mind. I have to break those emotional ties, issue them eviction notices and move on. I force myself to accept they are not going anywhere. Just because I have banished them to an electronic file doesn’t mean I won’t see them again.
You have to give new characters an equal chance. I have a few old characters loitering around my head. It’s so difficult to erase characters you spent three years of your life with. I tell myself my old characters had their moment of literary limelight and for whatever reason things have ended. It’s now the turn of my new character.
You have to stop trying to do too much. I am guilty of this. Working on a number of different projects with an array of characters living inside my head is doing my brain no favours.
Dare I say it – but I think too many characters inside your head is a form of procrastination. I love calling myself out on stuff – sigh! At the moment I am working on my current project and am thinking about my next book idea, the one after that and one from a completely different genre. Yes I have a head full of characters! When I am stuck I find it harder to ignore all those new characters.
Self care for your mind is essential. I am very conscious of this and writing a post like this is valuable. I know space inside my head is an issue so it’s time to have a character clear out, put on the relaxing music, meditate, go for long walks and rest.
It’s no fun living with a head jam-packed full of characters. If you are struggling with this, you have my sympathies.
Let me know if you have overcome this problem.
Take care out there my lovely readers.