Monday, October 30, 2017

Engage the Five Senses to Boost Your Writing

Edie here. Today I'm super excited to announce a new addition to our blogging team here at The Write Conversation. Please welcome Cathy Baker as a permanent part of TWC!


by Cathy Baker @CathySBaker


Fall offers up a feast for our senses—pumpkin lattes, the rustling of leaves, and fuzzy sweaters—refreshing us spiritually, physically, and emotionally. When we intentionally engage the senses our mind is energized, leading to fresh ideas and solutions for our works in progress.

Sight: See your surroundings. We can look at something every day without ever truly seeing it. Observe the leaves or a nearby insect. Marvel at the intricate details involved in its creation. Notice pedestrians nearby. What might their gait or facial expression reveal about their current circumstance from your perspective? Consider the possibilities of their story for a few moments. Now, look up to see the clouds. Are they bright cotton white or a heavy gray with rain in their belly?

Intentionally observing everyday objects has the potential to change the world.

Just ask the co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman. One morning, he noticed the waffle iron his wife used to make his breakfast. The small squares sparked an idea for a revolutionary shoe, Nike's Waffle Trainer, released in 1974, as reported by The Oregonian: http://blog.oregonlive.com/behindducksbeat/2011/02/nikes_holy_grail_bowerman_fami.html

Hear: Struggling with dialogue? Try spending a morning in a local cafe or a few hours at the mall. Non-fiction inspiration can emerge from most anywhere. Depending on the subject, consider inviting a few people whom you consider to be your ideal readers. Ask questions, and then listen to find out how to better serve them. For fiction writers, try researching your work-in-progress in a similar location to your book setting. What do you hear during different times of the day? Does a train blow by at 2 p.m. every day? Are there native birds with a distinctive song you would like to include in your story?

While working on my most recent release, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains, I rented an inexpensive Airbnb place tucked in trees on a nearby mountain. I wanted to hear the sounds that greeted me in the morning as well as those that lulled me to sleep at night. It was worth the investment.

Smell: Of all the senses, this is the most potent of all. As you enjoy an afternoon stroll (preferably in a park or other safe place in nature), jot down every scent you catch. Maybe it's the perfumed scent of a nearby fall-blooming flower, or the sharp (and might I add, allergy-laden) odor of hay bales. Or perhaps you have the pleasure of walking past a bakery on your route. Lucky you! How might you incorporate one of these scents into your current writing project?

Taste: Make a lunch date with your creative self. If you're not ready to embrace the idea of eating alone in a public place, take a book or use their carryout option. The point here is to order something you've never tasted before and to take time evaluating it. How would you describe the taste? Compare the texture to something familiar. Or, if you prefer, visit a small cafe instead and try a different flavor of tea or coffee.

When we have the opportunity to surprise our normal responses we also reap the creative benefits that can't help but boost our writing.

Touch: One need only visit the neonatal unit in a local hospital or an assisted living home to note the power of a touch. For the next few days, touch intentionally. Hold a friend's hand. Is it warm or chilled? While outside, touch the bark of different trees. How do the textures differ? Touch your favorite fall food. Is it sticky to the delight of your dentist or warm and soft with the scent of pumpkin? Be as descriptive as possible. How could you include one of your most persuasive descriptions in a current writing project?

Added bonus: Movement: (Because some consider this to be a sixth sensory element.) If you're hitting the proverbial wall at every turn while working on your current project, consider giving it thought before you head out the door to work, exercise, or play. Don Draper on “Mad Men” said it best, "Just think about it deeply, then forget it, and an idea will jump in your face."

When I write about a 15-year old, I jump, I return to the days when I was that age. It's like a time machine. I can remember everything. I can feel the wind. I can smell the air. Very actually. Very vividly. - Haruki Murakami

Which of the six senses will you engage first?

TWEETABLE
Engage the 5 Senses to Boost Your #Writing - @CathySBaker on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. As a twenty-five year veteran Bible instructor, she's led hundreds of studies and workshops. She's also contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. In addition, her poetry can be found in several popular anthologies. She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas where she one day hopes to have her very own Goldendoodle.

25 comments:

  1. Welcome Cathy! I look forward to reading your work. Thanks for the blessings.

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    1. Thank you, Robin! I appreciate the welcome. :)

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  2. Your writing is such an encouragement to slow down and absorb life's tiny moments. Thank you for these ideas. What a wonderful addition to The Write Conversation!

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  3. A warm, Sweet November welcome, Cathy! Totally enjoyed your piece - especially the part about movement. Excellent examples - some new, many inviting. Quite a few in our writing guild read Edie's blog every day, so we'll all be looking forward to your work.
    Jay Wright; Foothills Writers Guild; Anderson, SC

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    1. Thank you, Jay. Your words are a tremendous encouragement! I'm honored to be a part of this writing team. I look forward to learning more about the Foothills Writers Guild. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! Have a blessed day. :)

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  5. Welcome Cathy! Great first post. Love it!

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    1. You made my day, Ingmar! Thank you for the kind words.

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  6. Welcome, Cathy! Your writing always encourages me. And thank you for this post! Great tips and ideas to implore in our writing. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you so much. Hugs to you too, Karen! :)

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  7. Love your post Cathy! Today I’ll be looking up and around and listening more intensely. Thank you for the reminder that inviting the reader to experience the senses makes for good writing.

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  8. Thank you, Emme. I love how God gives us all we need (in such beautiful ways!) to fulfill our calling for His glory.

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  9. How fun to see you on The Write Conversation! I'm often inspired by nature, particularly sights and sounds in the mountains. You've just made me think of scents in my garden I might think of too.

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    1. Oh, thanks, Ellen! :) We are kindred spirits as I'm also inspired by nature, especially in the mountains. Enjoy the garden scents! :) Thanks for taking the time to share.

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  10. Loved this post, Cathy. So happy you will be sharing your talent here.

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  11. Wonderful post Cathy and a good reminder that getting away from my spot at my desk will serve to enhance my writing. Praying that God blesses you with that goldendoodle soon.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words... and the prayers! :)

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  12. Love this! So excited Cathy Baker has joined the team! Congratulations Cathy - we the readers win!

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  13. Happy to know you have joined the team at TWC! Blessings to you!

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    1. Thanks so much, Maureen -- and blessings to you, too! :)

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  14. Thanks so much, Liz! I'm delighted to be here. :)

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  15. Excellent, Cathy. I have a note on my desk to include senses in everything I write. Now, where is that piece of paper? :) Your blog post a reminder I needed.

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