The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: A Writing Exercise

May 21, 2014
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Danny Kaye as Walter Mitty Click for Source

I recently watched the latest version of the classic, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and once again, fell in love with a story that made an impact on my life a very long time ago.  It was not the movie starring Danny Kaye that first brought me into Walter Mitty’s secret life.  As a born writer, it was, of course, the short story by James Thurber.  In case you don’t know the premise, Walter Mitty is a day dreamer with a very boring life.  He escapes through his day dreams as a way of finding adventure and happiness in an otherwise ordinary life.  Danny Kaye did a great job portraying this famed character of literature, and Ben Stiller did an equally phenomenal job but representing a different Walter Mitty than the one portrayed by Kaye.

And what this lead me to remember is a writing exercise completed years ago as a requirement of eleventh grade English.  And it’s a writing exercise that I now encourage you to undertake.

The assignment: write your own Walter Mitty story.

You day dream.  A lot.  It’s a way to pass the time and take the adventures you want to have but that elude you in real life.  But paper and pen allow you to realize them.  So ask yourself: what dreams do you dream?  Who is your Walter Mitty?

I’m serious.  Go get a piece of paper and a pen.  Open up a new page in Word.  Start writing the story.

And I’ll make it even more interesting.   Somewhere in the reams of paper from stories gone by is the Walter Mitty story I wrote so long ago.  I promise that I will go unearth it and share it on this blog next week.

But first, I’ve given you something to think on.  And I bet you’re telling yourself you won’t write the story.  And I’m betting you will, because now, you can’t imagine not writing it.

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