Learning to write is a slow-growth process. -Ralph Fletcher in Craft Lessons
I have a shy character. Well, he may not really be shy, but he hasn't been terribly forthcoming when it comes to revealing who he is when people are watching (including me sitting there with my fingers poised over the keyboard) I've tried to sneak up and catch him when he doesn't think I'm paying attention--you know the writer tricks: take a shower, take a walk, drive the car somewhere--anywhere as long as you don't have kids in the car with you. But so far I've only caught glimpses; he wears t-shirts with funny/profound sayings on them as his way of flipping off the kids at school; he still struggles to control his/others emotions; he pushes the boundaries when it comes to when he should or shouldn't use his talent; he is a voracious reader; he sings slightly off-key.....
So far I haven't managed to overhear to many conversations though. I still feel like I'm not quite sure how he'd react in certain circumstances, what he'd say, what he'd do. Maybe there are certain techniques that writers use to get to know their characters. Maybe other writers just keep stumbling along like I do--writing, deleting, erasing, scrawling words down in a journal, snatches of conversation that I seem to hear in my brain. I keep reminding myself that no writing is a waste of time. Even if I don't use it in the novel, it still is needed to get me there. A diving board, starting blocks, a warm-up lap--it all makes a difference in the final run.
Does anyone else have any tricks they use to get them into a character--or to figure out the "voice" of a piece? How about the feeling like you don't want to waste precious writing time writing stuff that you might not use in the final draft? I have too dang much work ethic! It's a constant battle of reminding myself it is okay to play, to explore, to create just for the fun of it. And maybe, in the end, I really do know more about my character than I think. I just think too much.