Time Management for Writers

A Pen In Each Hand

By harpspeed

Three hands-free writing activities that you can do while you are stuck on a bridge or in a traffic jam of any sort.

Sitting solo in traffic can be lonely. Why not invite your character(s) to come along for the ride? Get to know them a little better. Spend some quality time with your characters by further developing them. While you are at it, don’t stop with your main character. Supporting characters may also need a lift or a tuck to keep them round, some extra depth. This applies to protagonists and antagonists alike. Here are a few exercises to try:

  1. Describe your character. I mean really describe your character like you are looking right at her. In fact, pretend she is sitting next to you. What is she wearing? Did you see any distinguishing features that you haven’t noticed before like a star-shaped mole on her neck or pointed ears that Spock would be jealous of? A receding hairline or skunk-like color line? Is that a scar or a tattoo on her arm? Is she right-handed or left? Does she look a little like Beyoncé? Maybe not. Is she missing a few teeth?  Now that you can see her, what is she doing right now? Is she going through your wallet? Is she fiddling with your radio stations? What kind of music is she surfing for? Can she hold a tune? Oh no! She just spilled her coffee everywhere! She’s a klutz.
  2. Create a habit or something unique to your character(s). Maybe it’s an annoying habit. Does he snap his gum? Does he spit in public? Is he smoking in your car? Does he wear the same tacky shirt all the time? How about deodorant—is he a user? Or perhaps he’s a little quirky. Does he have a crazy handshake or embarrassing greeting? Does he steal pens and hotel key cards? Maybe it’s time you go through his pockets or see what’s in his man-purse.
  3. Now take that habit and write a backstory about it. Tell yourself her story like you are telling someone else. For example:

    Daisy loves to buy nose rings and she is obsessed with being personally clean. Today she wasn’t wearing her diamond nose ring and she is moodier than usual. This is why: Every night she takes off her nose ring and puts it in a paper cup filled with soapy water. Last night, Daisy couldn’t find a paper cup so she put her nose ring in a glass and left it on the kitchen counter. Her brother came home late with a friend named Chris. (Both were a little drunk. Okay. Maybe more than a little.) Chris decided to pour himself a glass of juice. He saw the glass on the counter and didn’t notice the nose ring soaking in it. So, Chris poured some OJ in the glass and drank the OJ along with Daisy’s diamond nose ring. The next day, Daisy went looking for her nose ring and found the glass empty in the sink. So she asked her brother if he had seen it. He said he hadn’t but Chris, who was standing next to her brother, had a funny look on his face, Daisy thought. The next day, Daisy’s brother gave her a ride. While they drove, Daisy’s cell phone rang. He noticed that she had a plastic grocery bag. When she finished her conversation, He asked Daisy what was in the grocery bag. She told him that it wasn’t hers. It was for Chris. The brother thought it strange since they hardly new each other. Daisy told him to mind his own business when he asked another question. He was curious so he peeked in the bag when Daisy’s cell phone rang again and saw jug of orange juice and large brown bottle with a label on it that read: cod liver oil. The next day, her brother picked Daisy up at her workplace. As she climbed into the truck, he saw that she was wearing a smile as well as her diamond nose ring once again.

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