I've written about this before, and thought this topic would make a good reminder and great Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt.
As we grow older, most of us carry around baggage in one form another. Maybe it's a childhood friend whispering behind our back, "She'ssoweirdlet'sditchher," and believing everyone will believe the same thing. A guilt we have from the way we betrayed someone. An old boyfriend we quite can't forget because of the sweet words he whispered, even though he dumped us for a prettier girl. Wondering whether we will ever be somebody special because in high school we were destined to be the someone people teased. Cringing that we ever thought we were ALL THAT in high school because our lives didn't turn out to be the way we imagined it would be. Or the tears we shed for a loved one, of the treasures we keep because we're not quite ready to say goodbye. Or the public manner where the baggage of the beautiful, rich, famous, smartest, and accomplished are thrown about for the world to see. I'm sure you can think of more scenarios, all good fodder for trips down memory lane or a good writing rampage.
Whatever the cause of the baggage, the only way to move ahead is to get rid of the problem, not bury it away to crop up another time. Throw things away. Clean up your clutter. Write what's holding you back on strips of paper. Create a special ceremony to burn all those negative things away. Shout out from the rooftops how incredible you are. Face the music. Don't hide behind others. Have a heart-to-heart, believe in your goodness and dreams, don't let the naysayers get in your way.
How much baggage do you need to get rid of before you can move forward? Think on this for a bit. Get rid of your character's baggage (and yours!). Move forward. It'll be good for you.
Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt: When characters grow or suffer from their experiences, it adds depth and complexity to their personalities--it makes them human. How will they grow and heal? Do they need to get rid of physical objects or change an attitude? Is it through an argument or a heart-to-heart? Or, are they in a position where they can't let go and are forced to live miserably in the past, wondering why this happened to them, dwelling on the what if's?
What kind of baggage is holding your protagonist back?
Write a scene where your MC figures out the Aha! moment so he can move forward in his story. Ramp up the angst, emotion and conflict--you're going to need every bit of sweat and tears you can bring to the story. Add depth and complexity to your MC. This, my friends, will help your readers identify with your characters.
Have fun writing!