We know that writers need imagination. And the imagination is absolutely dependent upon observation.
“Writers can fill their stories with as much ‘made up stuff’ as they like, but there is no substitute for astute observation. It’s the one thing that marks flat, boring ‘telling’ description from vibrant, rich narrative that shows the reader.”A.J.Humpage at All Write Fiction Advice
Improve Your Observation Skills To Write Better
If we want to use our imagination in our writing, we need first to develop our observation skills.
Sadly, with our focus and dependence on technology, our powers of observation start to wane. Like any skill that’s unused, our observation muscle gets weak. But with practice we can strengthen our observation skills.
The best part of this practice is that we can do this any time and anywhere.
Some simple practices to improve your observation skills
Take a short mindfulness break
Take deep breaths. Relax. Now stop thinking and start observing things around you using your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, touch in your surroundings. Try to stay in this for as long as you can.
At the end of this practice, reflect and write what happened as you did this. Perhaps, you realized that it was a difficult exercise, because you were thinking too much.
But as you keep doing this practice, you’ll start finding it easier to relax and observe.
Observe an object – a flower, a leaf, a stone
Place the object on a flat surface in front of you or take it into your hands. For the next 20 minutes (yes, that’s right) observe and write down as many things as you can about the object. Remember to write observations and not thoughts.
Sit in a park or somewhere outdoors where there are people about and focus on one aspect of them. For example, notice only the style of their shoes. Keep observing and then try to recall how many types of shoes you saw. You could also look for different shades of a particular colour – all the shades of yellow – you encounter on a walk. Observe, recall and write.
These are just a few exercises you can practice. There are certainly plenty more. The idea is to practice them regularly. Observational intelligence is a skill. It can be improved. And improving it will improve our writing.
What do you do to improve your observation skills?
Last month, we introduced #WritingWednesday on The Frangipani Creative. Do join us.
- Fiction: “Which way to Party Beach?” “This is going to be the worst mistake I make all summer, I can already tell.” (Credit)
- Non-fiction prompt: Two cities you’ve lived in and loved . (Credit)