I wanted to share a quick writing exercise with you that everyone can do most of the time. Living in Rhode Island, a place where driving borders on anarchy, I frequently get the opportunity to stretch my character development skills and keep myself from launching into road rage.
When someone cuts me off, or runs a red light, or tries to change lanes into me, or cuts across three lanes of traffic to make a freeway exit, instead of cursing and honking, I make up a story as to why they might be driving so badly.
Maybe the woman driving the BMW, weaving in and out of traffic, just remembered she left the stove on. This is the third time she's done it this month. Not to mention yesterday when she left the garage door open, or Thursday, when she forgot to clean up the orange juice she spilled and came home to a swarm of ants on her kitchen floor. She just can't seem to get her head together since her father died, and if she doesn't get home before her husband to turn off the oven, assuming her house isn't already on fire, she'll get a bruise on her ribs to match the one already on her arm.
See? Not only have I exercised my creative muscles, now I feel bad for that woman, and I'm rooting for her to get green lights all the way home instead of shaking my fist out the window.
And you don't have to wait until someone blows through a stop sign in front of you to do this. You can do it for the anonymous commenter who leaves a nasty message on your blog, or the woman in the grocery store who cuts in front of you in line, the man who blatantly slams the door in front of you even though your arms are loaded with bags.
Just take a second, breathe, and try to come up with an explanation for why he might have done that.