What Person Has Most Influenced Your Life?

For the Good or for the Bad

By Annette Rey

Here is a dynamic exercise for you to investigate your own life, like examining the growth rings of a tree. Delve deeply into your psyche and your memory and answer the following fifteen questions. You will discover new things about yourself, a significant person that has profoundly affected you, and your past. This may take some courage to complete. Do you dare?

After you have given this project serious time and thought, you may be inspired to write a short memoir or create characters for a fiction piece that incorporates your personal findings.

Answer with as much detail as you can. Write quickly so you do not lose impressions. Don’t write for grammar or craft. Capture your feelings as they happen. If a question is difficult, go to the next one, you can always go back to unfinished answers.

There is no growth without honesty. Let’s begin with these fifteen questions.

1. Who has been the most significant person in shaping you?

2. From your point of view, what was this person like?

3. From the point of view of others, what was this person like?

4. Describe his/her physical attributes.

5. What types of emotions did this person project?

6. What emotions did this person evoke in you?

7. In what way did this person guide you, for good or for bad?

8. Describe exact acts this person performed toward you (he beat me with a beaded belt, he held me on his lap and comforted me, he introduced me to great literature, he paid for my education, etc.).

9. How many years were you in this person’s presence?

10. What was your age span during your exposure to this person?

11. What was your physical environment like (inner city slum, city living middle class, high rise upper class, isolated country farm, etc.)?

12. How do you think your environment shaped you?

13. How do you think environment shaped the person in question?

14. Write a list of emotions you experienced then and are experiencing now as a direct result of your exposure to this person.

15. What do you think your life would have been like if that person had not been in your life?

You have now only scratched the surface, even if you have written pages in response to these questions. The more you contemplate your answers, the more questions should arise that you can investigate further.

Here’s hoping your efforts have helped to solve a personal riddle in your life and have given you fodder to create characters and stories that stem from those efforts.

Keep searching and writing. Never give up on your writing.

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