June 28, 2009

Open Your Eyes to the World Around You

By Dorinda Ohnstad

Just got back home from a weekend at the coast with my daughter and niece. We were there for a two-day water polo tournament. To keep me occupied between games, I brought a writing how-to book on characters and viewpoint. When my daughter saw what I was reading, she asked me if I ever stop working. My honest response was, no.

There are a finite number of hours in a day. Too few to allow me sufficient time to do everything that demands my time. Writing constantly competes with those demands. So, when I can, I have to seize the moment and jump in, whether that is to write or study the craft.

Studying the craft includes reading how-to books, but it also means taking the time to study the world around me, from the girls in the pool playing polo to the parents screaming from the bleachers. A walk on the beach at Pismo was an opportunity to people watch, to take in the kids building sand castles, the young couple playing Frisbee, and the pair of black Labradors plunging through the water as the waves rolled onto shore. I took time to inhale the salt air, close my eyes and let the sun warm my face while a gentle breeze ruffled my hair, all the while allowing every tactile sensation to work on overdrive. My brain recorded everything; adding these experiences to my writer’s database.

Paying attention to the details of the world around me is important research. A writer draws on her experiences to be an effective writer. Without worldly experiences and observation a writer’s toolbox would be empty. So, when life calls you away from your computer keyboard, don’t begrudge the time; take advantage of the opportunity and do some research of your own. Whether it is a trip to the grocery store, working your eight-to-five job, or going to your daughter’s water polo games, there is fodder for your writing.

Delve in.

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At June 28, 2009 at 7:54 PM , Blogger F. M. Meredith, author said...

How true, how true--we writers do keep working all the time, even if it's paying attention to what people look like or eavesdropping on conversations. (One of my favorite past times.)

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith


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