Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Always noticing

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Mar• 04•17

I would tell aspiring writers to observe. They already know it’s vital to read and write whenever possible, but often people forget to watch what is going on every day in their surroundings. That is where your ideas come from. Keep one eye on your computer screen and your other eye on the world around you.”  Eoin Colfer

Being a writer shapes the way you see the world. It focuses your attention and knowing. Writing adds to a deep aliveness as you’re attuned to the dailiness of things. If you’re a person who mostly lives inside your head or are always peering at a screen; who misses the changing seasons and mooncasts and sand dollars as you wander your world, how will you be able to create whole worlds from tiny marks on a page? If you don’t hear birdsong, echoes, silences, or notice hues or how the thick summer air smells of a coming storm or brine or clover, how will you engage your readers’ senses? I cannot say it often enough: the most powerful tool in your writer’s arsenal is deliberate, purposeful awareness. Taking in each day moment by moment. Noticing the large and small, open to all this brimming and thunderous world offers. Then allow for keenly-felt emotions matched to your noticing and remake the world.

Try this: Notice sensory details when you encounter thresholds. When you step outdoors for the first time in the morning pause for a moment and take it all in. What does the air feel like against your face? What do you smell? What color is most prominent? How would you describe the sky? Practice this when you step into a shopping mall or grocery store, church or preschool. Are the children’s voices piercing? Joyful? Are art projects decorating the halls?  At night step outside just to feel and see what’s out there. Stars? Quiet? Sirens? What phase is the moon in? 

Keep writing, keep dreaming, have heart

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