Channeling a character

I never thought I’d agree with the observation that an author’s characters take on a life of their own. They’re just imaginary people, after all. Right? Well…

When I’m writing dialog, it feels like I’m taking dictation. That’s pretty convenient and (according to some) the dialog does scan well. But now I’m noticing that if I spend a lot of time with a character I start to act like that character, talk like that character, and even get annoyed at the same things that bother the character. Not to a huge degree; I’m still “me.” But clearly that part of my pea brain that generated the character emphasizes those attributes within me when I focus on that imaginary person.

I had learned techniques for emphasizing my own beneficial personality attributes as part of my philosophical studies. I think it would help me to clearly demarcate these ‘channeling’ episodes if I use those techniques from now on. One of those is to start a meditation with a meaningful gesture and a spoken phrase designed to reinforce the idea that a special time and place have been set up for inner work. Then at the end of meditation, reverse these steps. By establishing a clear start and a clean stop, this ensures that there’s no ‘bleed over’, but it also ensures that I dedicate that time and place exclusively to the work in front of me.

Over time, this should strengthen my writing, if only by virtue of a sort of post-hypnotic suggestion that reinforces my concentration.

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