Writing yourself into a corner is phrase used to describe any number of author ailments, from the scene that somehow “doesn’t work,” to the realization—many chapters in—that your entire plot resolution hinges on something your protagonist can’t possibly know about. While trying to finish my second novel, Purpose, I became mired in one of these situations. It felt like there was no way out and no way through.
The more I thought on the matter, however, the more clearly, I began to see the real issue emerging. My problem wasn’t the plot, the characters, or some other reason. My problem was that I’d forgotten who was creating the story.
As a writer, I make the rules. I decide what will and won’t be in my stories. I have to decide on how the world of my novel will function and where its story is destined to go. I have to believe in my story foundations and channel my characters formed by these decisions. Creative writing has to work this way.
I must assume the characters’ viewpoints to tell their story, so I have to take that walk and forget I made the rules.
When I become lost in the tangled threads of my story, I forget how I got there. I forget that I’m the one who designed that maze of plot paths. There’s nothing I can’t do in my story world.
This truth is readily apparent in novel writing, but in life, we all have to take a deeper look, we’ll find decisions we’ve made about ourselves, our goals, and our lives—decisions that limit our ability to reach farther and live life larger. Decisions that invalidate our potential and ultimately send us—just like those decisions framing our story—into a corner in our own lives.
So here’s the conclusion I reached after this inspection: I can’t avoid making decisions, none of us can, but I can get better at remembering I’ve made them. And I can certainly keep an eye on those decisions or self-invalidating statements that limit my potential, my goals, or my reach towards a bigger and brighter future. This goes for all of us in our endeavors no matter what they may be.
We can be the gods of our own universes. We just have to remember, in those dark and cornered moments, who is actually writing the story of our lives.
Would love to hear from my subscribers and readers about their thoughts and opinions concerning this.