This is something I've had to remind myself of lately. Mary Kole posted a recent vlog (also part of WriteOnCon)on characterization. She laid out a few questions for us writers to ask ourselves. One was:
Your character can't sleep. It's late at night, and everybody else in the house is wearing sleep masks and ear plugs and can't be woken up. In the very, very middle of the night, very privately, what does your character do?
The first thing that popped into my head was..."Leave the house and go for a run!"
Then I thought, "No! Too dangerous. What a stupid, stupid thing to do."
Then, "Wait, that's what I would think. Not what Tess would think."
Yes, let Tess run at midnight at her own peril, but she is bold and brazen and a teenager whereas I am cautious and thirty and a mom. Tess is not me. I am not Tess. We think differently. We do differently. I don't write my feelings and thoughts, but hers. Yes, she is a figment of my imagination, but one that I've created distinct from myself, and therefore she has her own distinct feelings and choices. And I must let her be...herself.