Life is full of inspiration. Keeping a notebook to jot down the glimmers of inspiration you see in everyday life is a tried-and-true writer’s trick. Not only can you use the material later, you develop a habit of keeping your senses awake and mentally articulating what comes in! By reviewing your notes later, you might also be able to notice senses that you are neglecting or catch your own personal cliche-crutches.

I assigned myself the personal challenge of documenting people I see on the bus every day for 10 days. Here are the results:

Day 1: Two bars of light slid along her hair as she nodded to the music.

Day 2: His beard was trimmed to create the illusion of a square jaw.

Day 2: Her hair was like a mattress burst open, springy curls poking out of a fluffy interior.

Day 3: He was handsome, until you noticed that he swung his arms like a primate.

Day 4: Her hair was short and shiny. It fell in two layers, one caramel and one black, and made you imagine she had a pet Rottweiler at home.

Day 5: Her eye shadow had the golden luster of the branches of a peacock feather, and her eyes were brilliant enough to match.

Day 6: Her knees had jowls.

Day 7: The boy sat with his palm open to the sky, his cigarette dangling down between his fingers. His girlfriend cupped her palm to her knee, her cigarette pointing toward the sky.

Day 8: Over half the room was Persian. The men were short and the women were glamorous. Together, they sharpened the air with a scent of rose petals and dill.

Day 9: The girls moved towards the door of the house in staggered plaid: plaid toboggan, plaid sweater, plaid shirt tied around waste. A bottle of beer dangled from one girl’s hand.

Day 10: Her features were sharp, but her voice was like water over river rocks.

Reviewing my notes, I think I am too focused on the visual sense. Only 2/10 quotes use my other senses! Yikes! Likewise, I have a tendency to begin sentences with “his” or “her” (6/10 quotes). I should experiment with different sentence structures!

3 thoughts on “10 Day Bus Challenge

  1. Interesting observation! I wouldn’t have expected any of my comments to derive from senses other than sight. I think I’m much more aware of what I see than what I hear, smell, taste, or feel.


    1. Thanks! My favorite writing manual (Reading Like a Writer) contained a section about what makes an effective descriptions. The idea of incorporating multiple senses stuck with me!


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