Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Writing Habits: Noticing and Nurturing your Imaginings

Written By: Jessica Morrell - May• 16•19

I preach the gospel of pay attention. In fact I preach it a lot. Because while some stories are meant to be written, must be written, it’s the smaller details that bring scenes, moments, characters to life. And for that a writer needs to be plugged in to her surroundings, an observer, a collector, a detective.

Here are some things to notice in your daily gatherings that will in turn feed your imaginings:

 

 

 

  • First impressions when you meet a new person, especially body language and mannerisms.
  • The varying tones in a person’s voice and laughter.
  • Fleeting facial expressions.
  • The way music makes you feel.
  • How a person walks into a room or new environment.
  • How people hold their hands, use their hands when they talk.
  • The colors and hues of sunrise, sunsets, clouds, sky before and after storms.
  • What is unsaid in a conversation, but still pulses beneath it.
  • Moon phases and what exactly waxing gibbous means and how the phases affect nighttime visibility.
  • Starlight and constellations. Two words writers: look up.
  • Smells/scents of each season and each building you enter, neighborhood you visit.
  • Background sounds–the music playing at your favorite stores, the hubbub at Costco, the other diners and kitchen sounds in a restaurant, traffic sounds including sirens wailing, freeway noise coming from far away. How do the sounds make you feel?
  • Cozy, ‘lullaby’ sounds–what sounds make  you feel safe, comforted, easy?
  • Old photos–collect them at garage sales, antique stores, flea markets.
  • Plants growing in sidewalk cracks, under logs, in shaded or overlooked places, abandoned fields or yards, empty lots.

 

 

  • How a person’s eye color changes in varying lighting.
  • How emotions are reflected in a person’s eyes.
  • How people react to surprises, shocking news, crises.
  • Body parts–arthritic knuckles and knees, the graceful lines of a young girl’s neck, the shell colors of eyelids, a baby’s joints, feet, hands.
  • The way people look when they’re diminished by grief, pain, illness. How do they hold their bodies? Where does grief reveal itself in the body?
  • The belongings/keepsakes a person holds most dear.
  • Weathered buildings, abandoned buildings, old wood and bricks, crumbling walls.
  • Portals and entries that lead to gardens, alleys, neighborhoods.
  • Sounds carried on the wind.
  • Sounds of weather, wind, and bodies of water.
  • Chalk art, children’s art, an artist’s brush strokes.

Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep collecting

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.