Friday, February 9, 2024

The Writer's Eye: Enhancing Situational Awareness

by Susan Watts

In the realm of self-defense, conventional wisdom often conjures images of physical prowess, strength, and combat techniques. However, a dimension exists beyond the physical aspects—a realm where creativity intertwines with martial arts, birthing a holistic approach to self-protection. As an author and a practitioner of martial arts, I find a fascinating synergy between these two worlds, where the artistry of the mind meets the discipline of the body.

Self-defense isn’t merely a series of movements or techniques—it's a mindset, a way of being. The canvas of self-defense expands beyond the training mat, extending into the creative corridors of our minds. To navigate this landscape effectively, one must embrace imagination, adaptability, and strategic thinking.

The foundation of self-defense is awareness—an acute understanding of one's surroundings, potential threats, and, most importantly, oneself. As creative individuals, we possess a heightened sense of observation, an innate ability to perceive nuances that others might overlook. For authors, situational awareness is pivotal for navigating the complexities of both the literary world and everyday environments. 

You can uncover techniques for increasing your situational awareness with these valuable tips.

Observation Skills

Observation is key. Start by noting the finer details of your surroundings. This could be changes in the environment, people's behaviors, or anything out of the ordinary. As an author, this practice not only aids your descriptive skills but also helps in understanding the dynamics of various settings and assessing potential hazards. Pay close attention to non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions. These can be useful in safeguarding yourself and providing nonverbal clues in your writing. 

Stay Present and Engaged

In today's fast-paced world, distractions can be overwhelming, especially when fully engaged in the art of constructing worlds and characters. Nevertheless, it's essential to remain mindful in public or unfamiliar situations. Avoid getting lost in your thoughts or devices. Engage all your senses to create a comprehensive awareness of your environment. This heightened state of perception enriches not only your personal safety but also your writing, providing a richer sensory experience to draw from.

Assess Potential Risks

As writers, we often explore hypothetical scenarios. Use this skill in real life by assessing potential risks in different settings. What could go wrong? How would you respond? Identifying likely escape routes or safe zones is a practical aspect of this practice. This mindset doesn't mean living in fear, but being prepared.

Trust Your Intuition

Intuition is a powerful tool. If something feels off, it often is. Trusting your gut instincts means recognizing your subconscious awareness of potential danger in your environment. This skill can be crucial for an author's safety. 

Maintain Awareness Online

In the digital age, situational awareness extends to cyberspace. Exercise caution when revealing personal information. Understand the risks of over sharing and be aware of cyber threats like phishing or scams, especially those targeting authors and creatives.

Stay Informed and Educated

Knowledge is power. Stay updated on current events, particularly those affecting the writing community. Understanding common threats, like online harassment or piracy, can help you navigate these challenges more effectively.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can improve focus and awareness. These practices aid in maintaining a calm, present state of mind, essential for both observing your surroundings and enriching your writing.

Regularly Assess Your Environment

Make it a habit to continually scan and evaluate your environment. The key to this practice is being mindful without yielding to paranoia. Regular assessments can assist with remaining alert and prepared.

Seek Training or Guidance

Consider situational awareness or self-defense courses. These can offer practical guidance on improving observational skills and responding to potential threats.

Incorporating these steps into your routine as an author doesn't just contribute to personal safety; it can elevate your writing. Enhanced observation leads to more vivid descriptions, staying present helps in crafting authentic narratives, and understanding diverse scenarios adds depth to your storytelling. Situational awareness is an invaluable tool for authors, promoting safety and enriching your creative journey.


Since her earliest recollections, Susan Watts has been crafting stories. As a child, she loved nothing more than opening a blank notebook and embarking on a new adventure through writing. While she enjoyed reading, creating her own stories brought her even greater joy. Under the pen name Michelle Allums, she authored a young adult urban fantasy titled, The Jade Amulet and is currently writing the sequel. Her short stories are also included in the anthologies Christmas Roses and Forever and Always. She will be a presenter in the upcoming writer’s symposium “Polishing Your Mirror: Self-Care for Writers” on March 23-24, 2024. 

Susan has dedicated over four decades to training in multiple martial arts styles and holds the impressive title of a five-time US Karate Alliance world black belt fighting grand champion. Through her karate school, she is able to impart martial arts and life skills. Susan also incorporates her martial arts knowledge into her writing. An avid triathlete, she keeps in shape by running, biking and swimming. She lives in the country with her husband, where they raise animals and enjoy being outdoors. Susan also has three grown children and numerous grandchildren. In addition, she is a CPA and VP of finance for a company in her hometown.


  1. What an amazing post! In this crazy world, we all need a good understanding of how to "defend" ourselves.
    Thanks, Susan!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. 😊 Yes, everyone can benefit from situational awareness.

    2. What a refreshingly new perspective. Thank you!


    3. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. 😊

  2. Great post. I particularly like that you've included situational awareness online. I've seen too many people fall for cons they'd never fall for in real life. Computers can be very convincing!

  3. Agreed! And that's one of the topics I plan on covering in my presentation in the upcoming writer’s symposium “Polishing Your Mirror: Self-Care for Writers” on March 23-24, 2024. Thanks for your kind words. 😊

  4. What a great article. I love all the tips. I believe in intuition and trusting your gut. Any tips on how to further develop our intuition?