Be Kinder to Yourself – Your Characters Will Thank You

When we don’t take care of ourselves, our stories suffer.

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i don’t know about you. But sometimes, I am not very kind.

To other people I am always careful to be polite and empathetic and make it known that I care, because I do. I am who I am and that is the kind of person I have always truly been. It isn’t always the case when I’m alone with myself, though. When I’m alone, I notice that I am very quick to judge myself. I do not usually hesitate before saying, sometimes even out loud, “I can’t believe you did that. You’re better than that.”

Aside from the fact that we need to be kind to ourselves in general – for mental health reasons; because we deserve to be happy and cared for – there is one major problem that arises when we are not as nice as we could be to ourselves. Can you guess what it is?

Keep in mind what characters are. They are fictional representations of real people, are they not? Often, we see ourselves in those characters. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant traits we barely even notice we possess end up in a character’s profile. She is stubborn, or she has green eyes; she is barely five feet tall, or she hates math, or she loves pineapple for some reason.

So when we do not take care of ourselves, at least as well as we could, we are also in a way neglecting our characters. And if you read my ebook, which came out on Amazon today, you will learn that nurturing your characters is one of the most important things you will ever need to do for the sake of your fiction.

When we don’t take care of ourselves, our stories suffer. We don’t feel well. We can’t write, at least not the same way we can when we are at our best. We have a hard time connecting with the story we are trying to write. We feel detached from it. We feel that way because, the meaner we are to ourselves, the more detached from ourselves we become.

To be clear, I’m exaggerating the metaphor here: I am fine, I promise. I am a workaholic and don’t like to sleep: those things unfortunately aren’t all that uncommon nowadays. As months go on I get a little bit better at reminding myself to let myself take time off and rest. I have noticed that when I do this, I am not only able to write more, but I am also able to write better. When I’m tired or cranky or overwhelmed, I do not write well. I continue to publish posts on those days, to remind myself that if I am nice to myself today, I will be able to write a much better blog post tomorrow. And so on.

Your characters want to have a healthy relationship with you. Before that can happen, you need to have a healthier relationship with yourself. This is something I have been working on for years. We’re all working on it, little by little, here and there. But I promise you: your stories, your ideas, they are worth it. You are a writer. Embrace that part of yourself you are proud of, at least to some degree. Let that carry you. And remember: if you do not write today, it is okay. You can still try again tomorrow.

You are amazing, don’t you ever forget that.

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Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

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