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Write inspired: Seven ways to use your powers of observation

As writers, we all have routines or rituals. One thing we cannot do though is write only when we are “inspired.” We cannot just write when we feel like it.

However, we can write from inspired ideas we collected earlier. Writing doesn’t happen just when you sit down at your computer or with paper and pen. It’s a constant process of gathering ideas and letting them percolate in your subconscious. These ideas can be the fodder for whole novels, snippets of dialogue, or description.

So how do we find those inspired ideas? Live in full observation mode. Take a closer look at everything around you, and take note.

1. Go to the mall — You’ll find all sorts of people at a shopping mall: men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Observe people to collect ideas for how to describe characters. Watch behaviors,  listen to the tone of conversations, observe how people dress.

2. Read the newspaper — Besides reading news and feature stories, scan the ads, including classifieds.

3. Read everything around you. Scan bulletin boards for interesting posters or flyers while waiting in line at the grocery store or library.

4. Talk to strangers — Strike up conversations with people in line at the post office or on the airplane. Key in on the issues that real people face in their daily lives, especially the drama.

5. Go to the grocery store. Examine what people have in their shopping carts and watch a hungry, tired kid throw a full-out tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle.

6. Eavesdrop. Hang out anywhere people congregate — at restaurants, at the hair salon, and your local coffee shop. Listen to the content of their conversation and tune in for any quirky expressions or diction.

7. Watch for anything odd or out of place. What is different in your neighborhood? What signs or billboards do you see as you drive down the road that might have some quirky message you could use as a detail in a setting?

How do you live and write inspired?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. A friend recommended your blog and I’m enjoying your posts. This one in particular touched me; writing when *not* inspired but from inspiration gathered earlier is beautiful encouragement! Thank you. 🙂

    July 16, 2011

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. How to ground readers in a scene using killer details | onewildword
  2. Style is more than the arrangement of words on a page, part 2 | onewildword

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