The Interesting Person
Writing may be a natural gift for some, but even the most gifted and most natural writers spend time practicing the art to become a master of the craft. Having a daily (or weekly) exercises will help you sharpen and hone your skills. Especially if you’re inexperienced, these can help you take tremendous steps forward in your craft.
The ‘Interesting Person’ exercise is useful because it makes you take the real world and bend it a bit to fit within whatever your imagine decides is happening. It allows you to pick a subject every day to write a short bit about, which is a method of practicing and stretching your mind. Just like a carver of stone or wood, a musician, or any other job/hobby/life, there are muscles you have to use on a regular basis to do your work consistently. Our minds are our muscle of choice and it’s how we exercise them that determines what we can later accomplish.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler
Some of us interact with dozens, even hundreds of people every day. It may not be direct interaction, but you notice them at some point or another as they’re passing you or sitting at a table. They may have stood next to you in an elevator, or you passed them on the stairs. You may have noticed the man sweeping the sidewalk in front of his store, or the old lady who sits on the porch and watches the people go by. That kid in the aisle with the bright blue hair or a bank teller with a series of unique rings – everyone or anyone can be the one you chose for the day’s exercise – just pick one and keep them in your mind.
Once you’ve got a few minutes to sit down, pull that person that you chose in your mind. Remember what they looked like, how they moved, the color of their eyes, skin and hair. What did they smell like? What did their voice sound like? Start with what you know and remember, then add the rest of the details in as you describe this person.
Now, start the next part with how you cam across this person. Write down the interaction, then turn your point of view onto their life and decide… where were they going or what were they waiting for or why were they in a hurry? Why does she have her eyebrow pierced, why does he have that tattoo – what does it mean? As you ask yourself the relevant questions, then you fill the rest in as if they were the character in a story.
You can write a little or a lot – depending on how much time you have available. At the end of the week, read over them. Go over what you wrote and consider how you wrote it. Does it come across the way you intended it? Do you feel you were too descriptive or that you need more? What would you change? Make notes for yourself. Keep track of your progress. You’ll find that you see your improvement far easier when you’re writing and reviewing it later on.