The Power of Observation in Creative Writing

Creativity isn’t just about waxing eloquent about the beauty of a

woodland stream or a rugged seashore. In fact, the most difficult

creativity is often the most rewarding: being creative with the everyday

aspects of life. That means being observant about everything — and I

mean everything — around you.

Start with this exercise:

Sit down on in a park, the mall, Starbucks — wherever there are a lot of

sights, smells, sounds. Use all five senses to take in your surroundings.

Do you hear the scraping of dry leaves or the hiss of the espresso

machine? Do you smell the richness of damp earth or the aroma of

coffee, or are you overwhelmed by the cologne of the man sitting next to

you? What does the bench or chair or ground feel like under you?

Take it all in. Then write!

Search for the best word to describe every single sight, smell, gesture,

feeling, sound, and anything else you can think of. If your writing is

missing any of the five senses — sight, smell, sound, touch, and even

taste — go back and rework it.

Creativity through observation is a lot of work, but once you’ve mastered

it, your writing will be all the richer and more rewarding for the addition.