100 Steps

Slice of Life2

I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

Last summer I did a writing exercise suggested by Anne Marie Pace on the Teachers Write! site coordinated by Kate Messner. The idea was to walk 100 steps in a direction you don’t normally go, then stop and spend about ten minutes recording what you observe, see, hear, smell, etc. The next step was to spend some time looking for connections, pick one, and use it as a starting point for some writing. That day, while at Longwood Gardens, I walked past the outdoor children’s garden and fountains and started counting steps. When I stopped I was near some benches, so I sat down and let my senses take over. One of the things I recorded in addition to sights and sounds and smells were a few bits of conversation between two women. In my notebook I have these phrases:

always traveling

used to be a social worker

organizes a music festival there

This morning I revisited a character sketch I started from those bits of conversation.

Laura was always on the move…literally. Since beginning a career as a social worker ten years ago, she had moved three times. Two different cities. One different state. All new beginnings. Laura always found something special in the places where she lived. Northern California had its towering redwoods and majestic mountains. Philly had history, loyal sports fans, and interesting neighborhoods. Lancaster County had its rolling farm lands and a quaintness that was hard to duplicate. The truth of the matter? Laura was afraid. Afraid of getting too involved with the families she worked with. Afraid of “settling down” as everyone told her she should. And afraid of missing out.  As soon as she felt herself getting too close or too comfortable, Laura knew it was time to start looking for that next big adventure. 


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6 Responses to 100 Steps

  1. arjeha says:

    I like the idea of this exercise, Rose. It would make a great workshop activity. Love how wove a character sketch out of snippets of conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. terierrol says:

    That is a good character sketch you wrote. I hope you do not stop now. And i will try the walking 100 steps for a writing suggestion soon. I have to wait for the snow to melt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dianeandlynne says:

    Well, now two days in a row, Rose, you get me wrapped up in the character you create. I need to follow these women. Maybe they could meet somewhere? But even if they don’t, I’m certainly curious to find out what happens to them. That’s a sign that you have created reality out of fiction for me.


  4. I love this exercise especially because it includes movement. I think it is really hard for me, and many children, to face the blank page and just sit there. Whenever I can get up and move around my ideas start to flow. I think this would work well for so many kids and with many genres. Thanks for sharing … and I am hoping to hear more about these characters.


  5. lynnedorfman says:

    Great exercise, Rosie! I want to try it out. I like your women characters. Maybe we will see them in a short story or novel? I am going to try out this exercise before my next PAWLP writers group in early April.


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