Creative Writing

People Watching – A Creative Writing Project

Readers,

It’s amazing how much a broken ankle is a perspective changing event.  Suddenly, I can’t go outside by myself for fear of slipping on the ice.  All the small things are now so much more time-consuming and difficult.  I now understand why elderly people will fight tooth and nail to keep their right to drive.  Mobility means so much in this world. 

Since I have so much free time and the lack of mobility to do much with it, today I’m going to bring back a past-time from my creative-writing days.  People-watching.  Not in the sense of making fun of people but in a more constructive way.

Here’s the process. Go to a comfortable place with a fair amount of public present – i.e. a coffee shop, mall, etc.  You’ll need a notepad and a pen or a laptop. Coffee shops are generally my favorite because the clientele tend to stay longer than what you might get in other public places.  Find somewhere comfortable to sit and then just look around. 

Take in your surroundings. Make notes on the background sounds, smells, overall atmosphere. Then take a look at some of the people around you. Find someone who catches you as interesting.  This will be your character. They could be very similar to you or you could be complete opposites.  You’ll find that the type of person you focus on will change every time you do this.

Once you’ve found your character, you have two main options on how to write. You can try to put yourself in their shoes, making their story as realistic as possible for this person.  Or you can just write, using the real person as a starting point but not worrying where their story takes you.  Now write. Write their background, their life, why they’re in the coffee shop, anything that helps explain who they are.  Spend at least 15 minutes continuously writing, with no pauses.  Don’t stop short though, if 15 minutes isn’t enough just keep going.

Once you’re done, relax and give your character a name.  Then put your pages away and don’t look at them for at least a day.  This will give you some separation before you do any revising.

If any of you should happen to do this, let me know how it goes.  I’ve always been a huge fan of people watching and really enjoy taking it this extra step.

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About The Mad Hatter

A little random, oftentimes heady, totally looking for purpose. I'm moved by topics across the board, sometimes focusing on reading classic literature or more recent philosophy; sometimes given to less productive impulses. In order to stay active, I've also just joined the Yahoo Contributor Network.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “People Watching – A Creative Writing Project

  1. Hi, On Feb. 8,2012 I experienced your same demise. I am in the throes of recovery..probably much like you were. To gain a sense of outcome, I wonder how your ankle is now? I have a long way to go, but I am concerned about the healing process of my 61 year old bones. I am a retired teacher, returned to making art. This has really cramped my style. I love the piece you wrote about the pain and the Kipling poem. It is exactly true for me as well. Looking forward to reading more of your writing. You have given me some hope.

    Posted by Pattie | March 8, 2012, 12:13 pm
    • Hi Pattie. Very sorry to hear about your injury, but there is hope. At least for me, my recovery has gone fairly well. I have a small metal plate on the right side of my ankle and two inch and a half screws on the left. I’m to the point now where it only gives me a small amount of discomfort if I overdo it which seems to be around 35 minutes on an elliptical. Haven’t run on it yet, but plan to as soon as the weather improves.

      Best of luck Pattie. Hopefully you’ll be able to continue your art during your recovery.

      Posted by The Mad Hatter | March 11, 2012, 6:59 pm

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