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How a walk around the block will improve your writing

Writing through the senses

Continuing the theme of using the senses when writing, today I want to talk about how to gather small details that you can use later to bring your writing to life. The following technique also allows us to practise noticing the world around us, so we end up noticing interesting details all the time.

Go for a mindful walk around your local area. For instance, I like to walk through the old part of a graveyard that’s just around the corner from us. You could walk on the beach if you live near the seaside like I do, or simply walk round the block. If you can’t get out of the house, observe the world through a window or a doorway.

What is a mindful walk?

A mindful walk involves noticing the world around you through all of the senses you have available to you. Mindful walks are a combination of a kind of active meditation and what Julia Cameron refers to as ‘filling the well.’ It doesn’t have to be a long walk for this to work, you can even do it sitting on a park bench or in a café! Mindful sitting can be just as effective.

When you get home note down the following:

  • What did you observe on your walk? Anything interesting?
  • Any smells or tastes associated with the place? (Use your imagination.)
  • Any textures?
  • What colours did you notice – including different shades of the same colour?

Why mindful walking?

Do this regularly enough and you’ll develop your ‘writer’s eyes’ or your powers of observation. You’ll also develop your ability to write using specific detail when you come back to your writing. The other great thing about going on a mindful walk is that it means you can write when you’re not sitting at your keyboard or writing in a notebook.

Enhance your experience of mindful walks by varying the environments you walk through. Try different natural settings, water, forests, parklands, beaches, for instance, as well as urban environments. Collect detail (using the senses) from each of these. Soon you won’t need to make notes afterwards, and you’ll find that these experiences will start appearing on the page.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Lou xx

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

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