Understanding comes in many shapes and sizes, not all of them pleasant and comfortable. It can roll in during an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment while you’re struggling through that last bit of schoolwork, or sneak past you when you’re asleep and dreaming.
Most of my understanding moments come when I’m in that 3/4’s asleep, 1/4 awake moment, lying in bed listening to the fan whirr overhead. That’s when the walls around my heart drop and everything turns crystalline. All the things I struggle with during my waking hours are brought to the surface and the answers are laid before me in neat little rows. It’s a magical ‘between’ time.
Those same moments of clarity can come when you’re writing. But you have to be open to the possibility that truly understanding your characters might very well lead the story in directions you don’t have planned out. That understanding them might just unravel your neatly lined up plot points and send your novel careening off into the wilds of your imagination; that your precisely ordered world might well come crumbling down, and what is rebuilt is nothing like you’d hoped.
And that’s no bad thing.