Write to the Edge

growth the write life Aug 20, 2019

I’m an aspiring writer. To this end, I have 3 jobs. Writing. Reading. Learning about writing. It's fascinating to me there is so much overlap between being writing well and living well.  Of course, I’m not the first to discover that writing is a metaphor for life.  But when you find yourself at the center of some cosmic Venn diagram, you go with it. 

To that end, I’m going to introduce a new subcategory to Intentional Tuesdays. TheWriteLife will be all about the exploration and application of the craft of writing and the implications on Life Design.

This week I want to share one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned from fiction writing that also has massive implications on Life Design. I hope you enjoy it. 

Ask any fiction writer what scares them most about writing and chances are you’ll get some version of this...

“I worry that I’ll write my characters into a situation they can’t get out of.”

Unless you're a writer, this probably sounds ridiculous. Trust me. The struggle is real.

You’re probably thinking… But you are the author. You get to choose what the characters do. You’re in control.

But I’m not in control.

No author is truly in control of their characters. Sure, I’m responsible for putting the words on the paper. And you could argue that I came up with the ideas in the first place, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you where those ideas came from. I get the ball rolling, but once the story is in motion, the characters largely do their own thing. My job is to be authentic to the characters.

So what happens if I write my character into an impossible situation? I can’t just end the story right there. I have an obligation to you, the reader. I can’t just write in some secret escape hatch that went unnoticed for 76 chapters but suddenly reveals itself at the 11th hour. It's would be unfair. Frankly, it would be insulting.  (Don't even get me started on HBO's, Game of Thrones.)

Paradoxically, writing my characters into an impossible situation is the BEST thing I can do for my readers. If I can’t figure out how to get the character out of the jam, chances are my readers can’t either. Which means, as long as I don’t cheat, the resulting story will be a surprise worth reading.

That sounds great.  Bit there is still that lingering fear. What if I can’t pull it off?

When I let my fear drive the story, I'll play it safe. I’ll do my best to keep the characters in my comfort zone. Sure, I’ll let them get into a little trouble. It is, after all, a story. But I’ll be careful to keep them where I can keep my eyes on them. And you know the inevitable result.


What’s an aspiring writer to do? What will allow me to make the breakthrough necessary to put my characters in perilous situations?


I have to trust myself, as the author of this story. I have to trust in my ability to write my way out of and situation that I wrote my way into. I have to realize that I didn’t get lucky and stumble into the situation. I earned my way into it. I got this far on my own merits as a writer and I’ll get myself to the finish line. It may not be the finish line that I envision right now, but I’ll get there. And I’ll be ok. And my characters will be authentic. And my story will be one worth reading. 

Now…what the heck does any of this have to do with Life Design?

You are the author of your own story.

Are you writing yourself into challenging situations? Are you allowing your character (which is you, BTW) to be authentic? Are you demonstrating to your character that you trust them to find their way out of the scary situation?

If we want our story to be worth reading, then from time to time, we need to write ourselves to the edge.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.