One Weird Trick to Get Me In My Character’s Mindset

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Just a quick writing tip for your Wednesday…

In case you’re new here, I must start this post with stating that I write YA, which is Young Adult fiction, which is novels (ostensibly) for teens, about teens.

I must also let you know that I am no longer a teen and haven’t been one in over a decade.

I still feel like one most of the time, which is probably why I gravitate towards YA both in reading and writing.  But then there are other times when I feel fully like the thirty-something grown-up I actually am. (Even when I’m able to fool the kids into thinking otherwise.)

Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of writing and realize my character is acting far too much like present-day me, as opposed to teenage me. Teenage me was a bit more angsty, a bit more emotional, and a whole lot less confident. So whenever I feel myself slipping too far from an adolescent mindset, there’s one thing I can do to get myself back into it:

Listen to teenage-me’s music.

This isn’t just a random trick; science tells us that we’ll always be the most attached to music we listened to during our formative years. (I actually got to interview a brain surgeon for work who talked about this — it was so interesting!)

For me, that means late ’90s and early ’00s punk rock (think Green Day, the Ataris, Jimmy Eat World). So when I’m feeling particularly un-teenagery, I just throw some of that on, and something magical happens: I decide I do, actually, have the time to listen to me whine. I’m eighteen again, and fully immersed in the confusing world of adolescence once more.

How about you? How do you tap into your character’s mindsets if you don’t necessarily share them any longer?

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