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Close observation and why it’s important for writers

Using the senses

Direct observation from life

Direct observation from life, like an artist en plein air or with a still life, has had a powerful effect on my writing. I’ve blogged before about my use of ‘writing live’ on location, where observation – through all of the senses available to you – is key. There’s another aspect to this business of observation for writers that you can do anywhere. You don’t have to go out somewhere and write live in order for it to work. This technique is close observation. In other words, notice the detail.

Notice the detail

When you observe your everyday world for long enough, you’ll start to notice the details, the small things, the subtleties that other people don’t notice, and you do that by stoppings, by taking time out to pause and observe. As you do so, you’ll develop writer’s eyes. You might notice colours, textures, smells, sounds, or tastes. The key to close observation is your senses, and making the detail you put on the page as specific as you can.

The pause

Sometimes noticing things is simply about the pause; a small pause, every now and again. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Build pauses into your day and you’ll (almost automatically) start observing the world around you to a greater extent. The other technique, that I’ve talked about on here before, is gratitude. If you deliberately try to find small things that you’re grateful for, you’ll notice things – because you’ve put your brain on a mission.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Lou xx

P.S. If you’d like more tips like these, take a look at the Small Steps Writing Guides.


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