by Lisa Bullard
You might almost call her my Evil Twin.
Something happens when I’ve moved outside my comfort zone. I perceive things in a fresh way. I feel a freedom to be someone other than who I usually am. My perspective and my relationship to the world change with my surroundings.
Writing gives me this same chance to try on diﬀerent parts of myself, but without the need to set aside bail money. So what if I’ve never been a fourteen-year-old boy? A musical genius? Homecoming queen? I can write my way inside any one of those characters, any one of those facets of the human experience. When I am successful in doing so, it means I have managed to travel to an unexplored part of myself—a part that, like my Evil Twin, experiences the world in a very different way.
Your students can explore the power of an alternate outlook through a simple “swapping viewpoints” writing exercise. Give them a basic story conﬂict, such as a scenario where a “perfect” older brother and a “screw-up” younger sister have to work together to achieve a common goal.
Ask students to immerse themselves as fully as they can into the consciousness of the brother. Have them write for ten minutes, telling the story from that character’s point of view. Then, ask them to swap and rewrite the exact same scene from the younger sister’s point of view. They’ll be surprised by the possibilities they discover in the story, and in themselves, by exploring these alternate viewpoints.
One of the beauties of writing is that it can take us places we never expected to go—perhaps especially, places we never knew existed inside ourselves.