How running commentary helps me with anxiety, driving and writing


Running commentary is an amazing tool, not just for life, but for writing as well. I can’t remember who taught me this or when I started, but it’s something I do on a daily basis.

For Anxiety

I have this problem that my mind tends to wander and focus on negative thoughts. This happens when I’m waiting for the bus, walking during lunch, or even while at work! I start thinking about something bad that happened to me 10 years ago and how it’s ruined my life and how I can’t do anything right and it just keeps going and going until I’m all riled up and become anxious. Over absolutely nothing important.


One way to stay focused is to remain grounded in the moment. And I do that by observing every single detail around me.

Example while waiting for the bus: The man beside me is old and wearing a tan leather coat. His pants are tucked into his boots. A young woman stands on my other side with the hood of her Canada Goose jacket pulled up over her head. I can hear someone’s headphones blaring music, it sounds like really good techno music. A crack runs across the pavement in the bus platform. The tree across the platform is losing it’s leaves. A red bird sits on the highest branch. It tweets every few minutes. And here comes the bus.

The key is to constantly observing your surroundings. It works to stop my mind from wandering towards miserable thoughts.

While Driving

My driving instructor taught me running commentary to help me calm down while driving. It’s the simple act of observing everything around me in the car and keeping me focused on the cars around me. Instead of being a passive driver, I become an active driver.

Example: I’ve turned into the street. I am in the left lane, now I am switching lanes into the right lane. I glance into my rearview mirror and there’s a red car. He accelerates and I signal and merge after he’s passed. As I approach the intersection the light is green and the way is clear. A pedestrian stands at the corner but doesn’t cross. The car in front of me is slowing down, I might change lanes. Check the left lane but no, it’s full, I’ll just stay here.

And Finally, Writing.

Using running commentary keeps me always observing my surroundings. This helps while writing to ground a scene with key details. You don’t have to throw in every single detail about the bus platform, but one or two main details will help the reader visualize the scene in their minds. It’s also really helped me while describing characters, whether it’s the tan coat or the socks being tucked into the socks. Key details can say a lot about a character’s personality.

I know that I need to stop overthinking, and I’m working on it through positive affirmations and mindfulness meditations, but in the meantime, I’m trying to use it to my advantage.

These Things Only Happen to Me #8756 aka There Must Be A Story In That #4445

When someone asks me to list the weirdest thing that happened to me and I’m taken back to the time we had multiple spies working in our office and our boss left and we went out for drinks and he was Irish and obsessed with Whiskey shots and we sat there doing whiskey shots and then my coworker noticed that one of the guys from our department kept tossing his shots over his shoulder instead of drinking it…

Cheaper Gas: Is it worth it?

I was driving in an area I don’t usually go to (Weston/401), and stumbled upon a gas station with prices listed a full 4 cents below the usual gas station I fill up at.

My reaction:


I know it’s only 4 cents. But since the price of everything else is starting to creep up, I’m slowly learning that every penny counts. My heartbeat accelerated and hope surged through my veins. Is this it? Have I found the glorious secret gas station that has actual cheaper gas?

I get out of my car and start filling up my car. As I’m standing there, a giant SUV pulls up to the pump beside me. A woman gets out and starts pumping her own gas. All normal, right?

I thought so. Until I heard shouting coming from a truck driver who was parked off to the side.

“Hey, lady! What are you doing???”

Completely oblivious, I glance around. Me? Is he talking to me? I’m just pumping gas. Am I doing it wrong?

It takes me a few seconds to realize he isn’t shouting at me. He leaves his truck and starts waving wildly at the woman across from me. “You can’t do that, are you crazy?”

By now, I’ve filled up my car and am heading into the booth to pay for my gas. That’s when I notice a giant pool of gas collecting under the woman’s car in the gas bay right beside me!

Truck Driver Guy is still shouting at her. She’s shouting back at him. “My gas tank has a tiny hole in it, I just need to fill up as much as I can to drive to get it fixed!”

Lady. That is more than just a tiny hole


She’s literally pumping gas into a tank that is emptying the gas onto the pavement under her car!

I get inside and the truck driver’s friend runs in, shouting at the attendant. “You’d better get sand out there, this lady’s leaking gas everywhere!” They run outside, leaving me no choice but to toss my cash onto the counter, jump into my car, and floor it before the entire place blows up from a spark.


Lesson learned: things are cheaper for a reason. And it’s not always worth it to drive ten minutes further just to get cheaper gas if it means having to deal with crazy drama.

Laughter Yoga: Where have you been all my life?

I have just discovered the most incredible thing in the existence of the world.


It’s where an instructor leads you through a series of laughter exercises. Just forcing yourself to laugh can make you feel that much better.

I am definitely 100% signing up for this. Just watching the video is making me laugh so hard I am crying.

This is definitely what I need in my life.

What I’m reading now

Since Valentine’s Day is approaching and I’m currently planning on wearing all black to celebrate my non-existent love-life’s status on that day, I thought I’d start the week off reading a novel about dating. So I picked up this gem: Match Made in Manhattan.

Summary of what the book sounds like to me: girl joins the online dating woes and hilarity ensues. Does she find her perfect match?

So far: I’m one chapter in and kinda bored.


It’s taking way too long to get started. So far, the main character has gone on a trip to france with her current beau, come home, gone to work, gone out with friends, and…idk. Where is this going? Why do I care???

Let’s hope things pick up soon!

By the way…one of my new year’s resolutions was to start online dating. And I mean, actively jump into it instead of my passive swiping that I’ve been doing through the past year.

Current status? Not a single date.



Conclusion: one cannot date during the winter. Must wait until the spring. Or at least, after flu season is over.


The book has gotten better. Yay!

What I Learned from Reading My Old Writing

Home for the Holidays means one thing: going through old clutter and purging. Old clothes, old collectables, those kinds of things.

But then I found five old notebooks. I knew what they were before I even opened them. They were notebooks I used during my time in University where I wrote a bunch of stories. They were a series of stories about (insert cringing face) a series of four friends who play on the same hockey team….that is being possessed by a demon. Unfortunately, the evil demon is the team’s best player, and they aren’t sure they want to stop winning.

Here’s what I learned from reading through it all.

It’s not easy to throw it all out.

I was ready to toss them all out. But as I started reading them, I found myself laughing or turning the pages to see what happens next. Will these stories ever see the light of day or be re-worked to become publishable? Dear god, no. Do they deserve to be trashed? No, not really.

Writing was important to me.

Somehow in the middle of lectures, library research, textbook highlighting, drinking with friends and long essay writing, I found the time to put the pen the paper (yes, these stories were handwritten!) and continuously churned out page after page of story. I even found one chapter that was written very messily, and in the margins I had written: “I wrote this on the bus!”. I am so impressed, looking back on myself, that I was so into my story that I actually pulled out my notebook and started writing a scene while riding the bus. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten that I have always been a writer. That is something that time, work, and personal relationships can never take away from me.

I was good at characterization.

I’m actually impressed with my ability to create four very distinct personalities, and have them show up on the page. I’ve recently been victim of falling into the trap of writing people who are too similar to one another, or voices that don’t sound unique.

I wrote for myself, not my audience.

I know that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when you’re trying to become a published author, but I guess back then writing was more of an escape for me, and I wrote for myself. In a way, it gave me a sense of freedom. I explored some very dark themes, and some very corny ones. But that was okay, and I enjoyed writing it.

I wrote what I know.

And in this case, I knew comic books. Reading through my old pages, I can see my influences very clearly. Which goes back to the whole characterization thing. I’ve stopped reading comic books, but now I suddenly miss it. The magical worlds really did open up my imagination, and provided a huge escape.

Well. I’m glad I found my old writing. It’s good to be reminded of how writing has played such a strong role in my past.

And hopefully my future.

Welcome to Mercury Retrograde!

Ever notice that four times in a year, all communications go haywire? The subway stops running (moreso than usual), you accidentally reply-all saying YAS to afterwork drinks, or your date tells you he wants to see you again but you interpret it to mean he doesn’t want to see you again, and then months later he says you ghosted him when you thought it was his fault?

Well, my friends, that is called Mercury Retrograde. It’s when four times a year for several weeks, mercury, the mighty ruler of communication, travel and electronics, appears to be traveling backwards in the sky. And it is not friendly.


Me, during mercury retrograde

The final mercury retrograde of 2017 runs from December 3rd to 23rd. Perfect! Let’s end this already shitty year with a disastrous bang.

It’s already hit me so far. On Thursday night, I was driving my brand new 2017 Chevy Cruze when something popped up on my display.

“Why is my car telling me to check my oil when I literally just changed my oil?” I asked.

My friend leaned over. “Oh, no.” She covered her mouth with her hand. “That’s the Check Engine light. That’s not good.”

My heart sank. I literally bought a new car in May for the sole reason to avoid the dreaded reoccurring Check Engine light that kept popping up on my 1992 Dodge Colt. This was supposed to mean no more problems. So how can I be six months into owning a new car, and already be having an issue with it?

So, the next day, I ditched out of work and brought it to the dealer. Which is the worst, since the dealer has the same coffee machine as we have at work, so the coffee tastes like being at work.

I was ready to yell and scream about how my brand new car should not be having problems. But they were really friendly, and they fixed it.

giphy (1)

Life would be better if dogs were mechanics

Now I’m still worried that I may have bought a lemon, and that I’m probably going to be screwed after the warranty is up. Hopefully this was just a manufacturing defect that was caught early, and it will be smooth sailing from here.

This is just the start of Mercury Retrograde….let’s hope nothing else wild happens.

Stay safe out there and make sure you double-check any emails you write!

Creating Characters Inspired by Real People

Recently, I started my next Work in Progress. Yes, I wanted to start it in October, and not in November during Nanowrimo. I got 6,000 words in and realized it’s just not working. It’s going straight to trash and I’m going to restart it. I’m going to wait until November to start it. I’m going to spend the next two weeks of October planning.

Because that was the issue here: pants-ing.

I’m sure it works for some people. And I gotta admit, I love pantsing, especially during Nanowrimo when the point is to word-dump, not necessarily to come out with a perfect manuscript. But I want to do it right this time. I’m getting old, and I don’t want to waste a month of my life. I’m going to come up with a solid outline this time, and solve what was my biggest issue in the 6,000 words I just dumped: character.

While reading this Nano Prep article, How the Ancient Art of People-Watching Will Make You a Character Pro!, I realized that’s what made my previous novel come so easily. Everything clicked for me when I observed someone in real life who was exactly who I wanted my main character to be.

It was a girl I worked with. I even named my MC after her! (which I changed later, of course). The thing is, everyone in my office hated her. Even I would get annoyed with her. It made me wonder, why? I realized it’s because she has absolutely no filter. She always speaks her mind about anyone and everyone, and she is very, very opinionated. Shell also never let anyone talk shit about her. Not only that but she is very bubbly, optimistic, and a huge lover of gourmet tea.


(I just realized she’s exactly like Kelly Kapoor from The Office)


Boom! Instant character. Suddenly my main character came alive in my story. I sat down and all the scenes came easy because I understood her reactions and motivations in the scene.

I don’t know if this is a right or wrong way to go about creating a character. All I know is it’s worked for me before. So for now, I’m on the hunt for my next real life character inspiration.


Unfortunately, everyone else at my office is dull so I need to go outside this time. To the mall I go!