So many stories, so little time.
Since I started struggling with creativity — which once came to me as easy as breathing — I have been focusing on each and everything that can help me get back on that writing horse once again.
As I said in another article last week, ‘Travelling to distant lands can help your writing. Travelling in your mind can do that do. Even the daily bus ride can be your best journey ever.’
So today I decided to expand on this idea: the bus as a creative writing exercise.
As writers, our minds need to be tuned into anything and everything that can make a good story. That’s just was Gretchen Rubin did, when she wrote The Happiness Project.
Her book, story — and if I may say so, social movement — starts on a bus. She is looking out the window and she is struck by a thought that has certainly crossed most of our minds at some time: ‘What do I want from life, anyway?’
I must say I am not a big fan of self-help books; but I am a fan of Rubin’s. She is witty and funny. She gets mad, she struggles, she fails. She tries again. Her journey is above all honest.
One thing her book made me do is pay even closer attention to what goes on in my daily bus rides — both in and out the bus.
I think I am still waiting for my own ‘bus epiphany’ but while I wait I have been witness to some very interesting, funny, angering and sad stories — perfect writing prompts!
I don’t intend to eavesdrop but sometimes you just do…
And it is WONDERFUL!
Here are some examples of the real life stories that go on around us unnoticed and that deserve to be put on ‘paper’:
- The little boy who kept asking his Mom for a unicorn. He saw one on the TV and ‘everybody knows that if it is on TV, it’s real’. He started crying when an old men sitting across from them said that unicorns are like Santa : not real.
- The middle-aged woman with a bright red scarf on her head that tells a neighboring passenger she is on her way for her last chemo session, after a 5 year treatment.
- The bus driver who stops the bus abruptly and starts sobbing. He just received the news of his father’s sudden passing via text message.
- The group of ‘mean girls’ sit together on the back of the bus. They are busy creating a fake Facebook page for a girl they dislike.
- The new Mom who starts crying when her newborn baby squeezes the mom’s index finger in her tiny hand. The Mom then realizes she is on a crowed bus and quickly wipes her tears.
- The little boy who is clearly too young to be going alone to school and looks both scared and amazed the entire bus ride, while observing all the different people around him.
- The young man who traveled with his dog. The dog was scheduled to be euthanized the next day. Therefore he decided to spend the day before doing all the things his dog loved — which included riding the bus.
These are just a few of the stories I have stumbled across in the last couple of months. Over the years, I have come across quite a few more!
My articles here on Medium have been sort of focused on ‘self-help for the struggling, disgruntled, desperate, creative-thirsty writer’, a.k.a. me.
If I am helping anyone else along the way, that is an added bonus.
However, I must say that my journey here on Medium is a personal one: I am trying to get to the bottom of this writing thing — why do I do it? Should I look at it as a hobby? Do I want it to be a bigger part of my professional life?
Forcing myself to write daily has been a challenge: one of the things I struggle with most is discipline. I have been trying to keep myself accountable, even when I don’t feel like it.
For the most part, writing on what bothers me has helped clear out some clouds.
However, I can’t help but feel something is missing — that something is fiction; I need to apply some of my new found wisdom to my fiction endeavors.
I decided to handle my writing as I would do an exercise routine: follow a plan, that gets a bit more challenging every week, until a final goal (5K run, for instance) is reached.
So I guess a good way to kick-start this is challenging myself to write a short piece of fiction everyday for a month, in addition to my daily Medium articles.
Off I go then! I got a bus to catch, people to listen to and stories to write.