One of the best habits you can cultivate as a writer is the power of observation. People all around you give you amazing content. Whether it’s the obnoxious barista that won’t even look at you or the friendly cashier at the local market. Everyone you encounter provide a wonderful panoply of characterizations. The only thing you need to do is step back and observe. Recently my step-granddaughter, who is a budding writer, told me she was working this summer as a lifeguard. I asked her what she enjoyed most about her job. She said, “The people are so interesting. I take notes about each one to develop characters for my stories.” My guess is she’ll be an excellent writer.
So here are some tips to keep your eyes wide open:
This might be the hardest part of any interaction. When I taught people how to deal with difficult people, I suggested they take themselves out of the confrontation. Imagine standing beside yourself. When you do that, your emotions are held in check. The same is true for us writer-observers. When we take ourselves out of the situation and “stand next to ourselves,” we see a lot more. We begin to imagine what it must be like to be that person in front of us. Our own feelings and emotions that cloud our vision fades.
My husband it quite good at this. We will be driving along a country road and he will see an old ramshackle house. He’ll start talking about the people who live in that house, making up stories about their lives. What they do, what’s important to them, what their children do, where they are from. The deeper you go into your imagination, the richer the character becomes.
Remember we have more than one sense. Sometimes we only think about the visual, but there’s also hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Think about everything your senses pick up. How does the person sound? What distinctive odors surround that person? Again the deeper you go, the better.
If you wait too long, you’ll miss the moment. The actual aura of the moment creates a great opportunity to create. Your mind is ripe for the picking. Perhaps you don’t want to carry a little pad everywhere, but you can make some notes in your Smart phone.
These are some of my tips for Keeping Your Eyes Wide Open as a writer.
What are some of your tips? Share! I know there’s a writer or two out there who has some great tips for our readers. Let’s hear from you.