Recently, I returned to a writing practice that I adopted a number of years ago after reading Heather Sellers little guide, “Page after Page.” An author I quoted last week, Sellers, a University professor who teaches creative writing, offers tons of advice and exercises for both the seasoned and would-be writer.
The practice that I’m referencing today (and have alluded to in previous posts) is that of jotting down 10 things that you observe each day. For me, in addition to its use in sensory description, it is a valuable Zen-like process that tunes me in to awareness.
For the purpose of writing, I have a collection of inexpensive writing journals that I picked up years ago at the dollar store—you guessed it—a dollar each. I like to use mechanical pencils for my handwritten work. I like how they glide across the paper and, since I’m left-handed, how they don’t smear like other writing implements. As I go, or at the end of the day, I jot down my notes, numbered 1-10. Sometimes they are banal, unpoetical:
A fat black lab, panting in the heat.
Often enough, they are terse little stand-alone poems such as this one that morphed into a Haiku:
Shadows melt into
jade undulating velvet
on the eighteenth green.
And even unpoetical ones can be manipulated at a later date to become a poem or a description in a piece of fiction:
I found last week’s paper in the garden, dirty and wet.
I found last Tuesday’s newspaper—soggy, torn—
half-buried in a corner by the geraniums.
The crisis predicted on page one
had slipped, unfulfilled,
It’s possible to combine them, too. For example I created the poem I posted for dVerse Open Link Night on Saturday entirely from observations I had jotted down years ago (and how I wish for those storms that I wrote of in the first part now that we face significant drought in Reno.)
So, to those poets and writers who read my blog, I invite you to give this exercise a try. And even if you aren’t a writer, try it. You will be surprised how easy it is to miss so much of the complexity of life when not tuned into awareness.
Have an “eye-wide-open” week!