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Five ways to build your curious nature

I’m a curious person.

My intense curiosity propelled me into a writing career. So when I read Bernadette Jiwa’s post, The Relationship Between Curiosity and Business Growth, my curiosity meter spiked into the red zone.

Jiwa tells about going to her local florist one Friday night and being surprised by the sheer number of roses she found in the shop. Buckets of roses filled almost all the floor space. She assumed they were for a wedding the next day and questioned the florist. The florist explained that the roses were for a customer who bought 110 bunches of 10 roses every Friday evening. The florist didn’t know what the customer did with them.

As a person who lives a life of curiosity, I could hardly stand not having the answer to this question.

Curiosity is what drives children to develop skills, scientists to devise groundbreaking inventions, and writers to write best selling novels by asking “why,” “how,” and “what if.”

The good news is we’re all born with this trait and developing and embracing it can make us better writers. Exercising our creativity can help us be attuned to story ideas, build out better characters, and think of more creative plots.

Make a practice of pursuing your inquisitive nature each day with these tips:

1. Question everything. Ask what, where, when, why, who and how. These questions will help you explore all the options to move a story in unique and surprising ways. Question even whether you’re asking the right questions.

2. Create a learning plan that never ends. Live with mindset of a learner. Make a list of things you’d like to know more about and then begin researching them. If you’re reading something and you see a word or concept you don’t know, look it up. I use the feature on my e-reader to highlight a word and see the meaning pop up.

A college friend had a fascination with Shakespeare. She made it a project to learn everything she could about his plays and his life. Consider learning a new language or taking a class about a topic that interests you, such as drawing or cooking. Even classes that have nothing to do with writing can spark story ideas and provide research material for a future piece. Approach learning like children, who don’t put limits on what they can do and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.

3. Look at all the angles. Don’t be satisfied with what’s on the surface. Dig deep. Look at your work from a variety of perspectives. As a writer this will help you pursue multiple directions and keep you from settling on your first idea. For example, a curious writer will experiment with different point of view approaches to see what feels right.

4. Hone your observational skills. When you go out of the house each day, be conscious of the world around you. Observe people in line with you at the post office or supermarket. Note your sensory observations. How does the air smell? What sounds do you hear, whether you’re outside or in your house. Don’t eat mindlessly. Note the flavor, smells, and texture of your food. Watch for elements of surprise in your daily life. Be sure to record your observations in a notebook. The act of writing them down will spur you to be ever more vigilant.

5. Be open minded and objective. Nothing kills curiosity more than a closed mind. Curiosity relies on the desire to go beyond the status quo. Look beyond opinions to facts. Then question the facts.

Exercise: Make a list of your fascinations. What subjects, people, or ideas or people interest you? What do you wonder about? I love learning. I even love learning about learning, including how to become more efficient and productive in my quest for knowledge. One of my projects was to learn about how to learn languages better. From your list of ideas or subjects that intrigue you, choose one and delve into into its mysteries.

Exercise: Think about the man and the roses. Write a story or poem about what this man does each week with 110 bunches of 10 roses and why.

And by the way, if anyone knows what that man does with all those roses, please let me know in the comments below.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. I need to know about the flowers!

    December 5, 2014
    • It’s a mystery! It makes me think that curiosity is what keeps readers reading a story, so we need to keep an element of mystery in our writing if we want our readers to keep reading.

      December 5, 2014
  2. Great tips. I like them all; hard to pick one that I like more.

    December 8, 2014
  3. Glad 🙂 to have someone who is as curious as me.

    December 8, 2014

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