If you want to be a writer, you have to be strong.
I have just spent a couple years in what Iyanla Vanzant calls, “The Basement.” It’s when you feel like a victim. It’s when you cling to self-destructive people and self-destructive behavior. People walk all over you all the time. The “First Floor” is when you are able to recognize the destruction and start making changes. I’m on the second floor now, which means I’m learning how be strong.
From the second floor, I can see how living in the basement has affected my writing. My characters tended to be passive. The conflicts were unclear–it was hard to tell what the characters wanted.
A good story has a strong character with flaws. Weak characters with a few glimpses of strength rarely cut it for a good story. We’ve heard it in workshops again and again: What’s the conflict? What does the character want? What does the character need to do in order to achieve their desire?
What workshops don’t teach us is that in order to write strong characters, we need to know how to be strong people.
What does strength look like? It looks like knowing what game you’re playing.
It means you find out the rules for the game you’re playing and follow them.
It means going to work, no matter what.
It means that you don’t get destroyed by destructive criticism.
It means you never give up, never never give up.
It means that you don’t get caught up in other people’s drama that makes you weak.
It means you learn how to adopt a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t contribute to your weakness.
The stronger you are, the stronger your writing will be. Don’t write characters who are victims. Don’t be a victim.
To get started, I recommend getting to know Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Be like Hedwig. Especially in this song: