On a carousel, if you grab the brass ring you earn a free ride. Grabbing a ring requires both both good balance and good reach, but it's not difficult once you find your groove. However, most of the rings in the dispenser are steel...
In a previous post I'd listed some similarities between myself and my characters that always seem to pop up in my stories. Which is perfectly fine. Every character I write, even the "bad guy" has a bit of me in them. But if every character I wrote was more like me than NOT like me, I'd have a problem. The characters would become terribly predictable and stale to my readers.
I have to put forth a conscientious effort sometimes to give my characters -- especially my female MCs -- traits that are NOTHING like me. One way to do this is to think of a specific thing you like or dislike and have the character feel completely opposite of the way you do.
Flipping your personal perspective is difficult, though. I just found out this morning that the main character of my current women's fic WIP has an irrational fear of dogs. I cannot even begin to tell you how much NOT like me that is. I used to work as a veterinary technician. My mother owns an AKC approved kennel for breeding dogs, which I helped her run as a teenager. Dogs have been a positive part of my life for as long as I can remember. I still know the name of every pet dog I had. Ever. And it still saddens me that I outlived them.
Okay, so she has a fear of dogs. So what? Well it wouldn't be an issue, really, if I didn't use it in the story somehow. The start of my catalyst is when she inherits her grandparents' old farmhouse. No animals live there anymore, but her new neighbor just happens to be a local vet, and he has LOTS of pets, including (but not limited to) dogs.
Again, this wouldn't be a major issue if this neighbor wasn't very involved in the story. But he is. In fact, he is crucial from the get go. He is part of the catalyst, the element that pushes the MC into making the decision to go forward with the action of the main premise. And by the midpoint of the story he is clearly tangled in the web of the MC's sticky situation, whether he wants to be or not.
So when I get to writing these scenes that detail the MC's view of dogs -- a view that is exactly opposite of my own -- it's going to be tough, to say the least. I have to make the reader believe that this person really is afraid of these creatures that are basically being forced into her comfort zone... when all I wanna do is snuggle up to them or play fetch or whatever.
(Aside: I had a Great Dane when I was about 10 years old. She was huge. I used to curl up next to her belly and drape her gangly legs over me. It was awesome.)
It's easier when the MC is just a reflection of you, the author. It's easier when they love the same things you do. For example, this same character who fears dog is also a music lover. In fact, she is a music teacher. This is a major part of her self-identification. She plays the same instruments that I play, and some I wish I could play. Whenever music is involved in the story, the words flow effortlessly from my fingertips. It's beautiful.
But everything you write can't be that easy. If it is, you're doing it wrong. If you don't struggle, you have little reward. If you don't stretch your skills, you never improve. If you don't find ways to make your characters LESS like you, you are failing them as their author.
It's like riding past the brass ring of your own potential and not even attempting to snatch it. Take a chance and reach out. You might be surprised by what you find in your own hand.