Developing our curiosity can serve to make us not only more interesting people but also better writers and more creative artists.
Being curious has helped me dig deeper in my writing, develop an authentic voice, and create more well-rounded characters. It has also improved my relationships and, overall, made me a happier person.
When I was younger, if someone started talking about a subject I wasn’t interested in (history, westerns, reptiles), I’d listen but my attention would wander after a while. Over the years, I learned to look at these exchanges from a different perspective.
I started asking myself, “What can I learn from this person about this subject that I didn’t know before?” Then I’d listen and ask questions. Suddenly, everything became much more interesting, including me! These types of interactions can also be mining grounds for future story ideas and character traits.
Artists need to be curious about their world, but with the stress and busyness of our daily lives, how do we maintain our child-like sense of wonder and curiosity?
Here are a few exercises that have helped me:
- Have an open mind.
Practice looking at things, people, and situations with a clear, open mind. When you find yourself judging someone, let go of the judgment. Instead, ask questions. Read more
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: Read more
“You never graduate from learning. There is always more to discover.”
This sentence, in an e-mail update from author Jeff Goins, made me think about how much I love to learn, especially about writing.
One of the reasons I love learning is that it feeds my curiosity. Every time I learn something new from a book or a writing workshop or conversation with my writer’s group, I feel a charge. After periods of intense learning and mental stimulation, I even feel like my brain has changed, as if I’ve expanded my thinking.
Turns out, there’s science behind this.
In a post at Psychology Today, neuropsychologist Ian H. Robertson hypothesizes that education and stimulation repeatedly trigger a chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. The brain releases this chemical when you face a challenge, figure out something new, or are surprised by something — all things that happen during the learning process.
So how does this help writers? Read more
When I was in elementary school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Working as a journalist turned out to be the perfect job for me because it required asking questions, which is one of my favorite things to do.
My blogging partner Carol’s post, What writerly traits run in your family?, got me thinking about my writerly DNA.
I was born with the curious gene. I figure I inherited it from my mother. When I was a newspaper reporter, she often called me with some tidbit of news she’d heard or something she saw that she thought I’d want to know about because it might make a good story. And she was often right. Read more