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Paying attention to people around you

Whatever you’re working on, keep going.


I talk a lot about showing up to the page. It’s kind of like a train going from station to station. It runs a course, stays on track, gets to destinations. Of course, sometimes they get derailed and so do we.

But if you don’t show up, you probably aren’t going to write anything. My favorite  time to show up to the page was after my daughter left for school. Coffee freshly poured, breakfast over, dishes clean and a walk in before 9 a.m. I ran with that for a long time. I wrote a lot. But then,after a period of years, boredom had set in. I needed character studies. I took a job. Then another. And another. I met interesting people.

All of the jobs I took offered me something in the way of character and scene development that you just can’t get by visiting an office or store. I love to write vignettes. You can do this too. It’s a sketch of someone you see in real life.

Where will you be today? What interesting person might you run across today? In one place, there was a disturbed woman who would go through the parking lot taking pictures of license plates. If you looked at her, not confronted her, looked at her, she’d start screaming. I don’t know what her issues were, but at some point, she might come in handy…

If you work with the public, you have a treasure trove of people to pull characters from. What might you see on your way to work? Running an errand for a former boss, I pulled up to a stop light. In the bright, bubblegum pink car next to me was a bearded dude with tattoos, smoking a cigarette with a cap on who looked like a bouncer in the tough section of town. I don’t know if the car was his or not, but clearly, he was secure driving it. I wish I knew the real story. I don’t, so I can make one up.

Occasionally, I see a one man band. If you can, a conversation adds interest.

Keep your eyes open for facinating things like this that are “prompts from real life”. They’re great warm-up exercises and a kickstart if you’re circling writers block.

Published inEncouragement for Writers

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