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Stop and Write Lists

Writing through the senses

A quick recap

For the last few days I’ve been writing about using the senses. Tuning in to the senses is a kind of mindfulness, one that we’re using to make our writing more effective, more specific and more authentic. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

List making

Here’s another technique you can use to add specific detail to your work and to become an ‘observer of the world.’ It’s simple, so simple it might seem like it’s not going to help, but the key is to do it more than once over a day, so you might have to set a reminder on your phone. Here’s how the exercise works:

  1. Every so often stop and write a list. Your list doesn’t have to be sentences. It could be made up of phrases, or just words.
  2. Write a ‘shopping list’ or ‘observation list’ of what you observe around you in that moment in time.
  3. Stop at least three times over a day, and use all of the senses you have available to you.

Some quick tips

  • Don’t rely on the visual sense only because although we’re training ourselves to ‘look at the world with writer’s eyes’ that’s a euphemism for observation through several of the senses.
  • It helps to keep a notebook handy so you can start to write your list quickly when your phone alert goes off.
  • If you do this in a writing group, have everyone stop at the same time over a day then compare lists.
  • One way to take this further is to write a ‘list poem’ based on your observations.
  • Repeat this several times and you’ll collect lots of material to use in your writing.
  • The exercise works whatever kind of writing you are doing, simply because it develops your powers of observation – try it if you don’t believe me!

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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