Whew! Sometimes life just feels RELENTLESS, am I right?
It’s what so many are experiencing in 2020, a year that keeps trying to top itself in terms of plot twists. We’re all the heroes of our own life stories, and this year has been a long, long, LONG second act.
Each day, we choose how to respond. We face challenges we may never have imagined. We soul-search and find the bedrock our true values. We take action, care for and console one another, grieve, fight, lead, make sacrifices, and (perhaps hardest of all), extend a hand of peace.
We make tough choices daily, under escalating pressure. And guess what? It’s exhausting.
It’s not easy being a hero, even a fictional one. The hero of your story is going through tough stuff, page after page. Your reader is along for the ride, and frankly they’re both going to want a break now and then.
Within your fictional hero’s journey, there must be moments for your protagonist to rest and regroup. Bilbo and the dwarves paused for a helpful brief stay with elves to get provisioned and learn how to read a very special map. Dorothy Gale and her lion, tin man, and scarecrow traveling companions had a full-on spa day before confronting the great Wizard of Oz!
These restorative scenes may temporarily release some narrative tension, but they are not disconnected from your hero’s overall journey. Any personal trainer will tell you that the rest day is where the change happens. Every yoga class ends with the relaxation of savasana, or corpse pose, to let body and mind integrate the hard work that’s just been done. Is that the end of the road?
Not at all. It’s what enables us to come back the next day and do it all again.
In a well-structured story, these are the moments where your hero can reflect on what’s happened and prepare for what comes next. But the throughline of the overall mission is never broken. Your hero rests in order to be ready to deal with the even tougher challenges that await, and to gain whatever material, psychological, and spiritual resources she needs to go on.
It’s Friday, storytellers. If you’re NaNoWriMoing, you have been writing like mad for thirteen days now! Momentum and accountability are fantastic, so keep going — but how can you also find a way to recharge your batteries? A walk outside, a bath, a nap, a cozy read, a healthy meal, a pet snuggle... Do something restorative!
Afterward, you’ll get back to work. Because that’s what heroes do.
TIP: Writer self-care matters! Give yourself the breaks you need to keep going. The same applies to your fictional hero, too.