Two Main Ingredients in Creative Writing – Observation and Focus


Creativity isn’t just about spreading silver-tongued poetries about the beauty of a rugged seashore or a woodland stream. In fact, the most challenging creativity is often the most worthwhile: being creative with the conventional aspects of life. That means being extra observant about genuinely everything — and I mean everything — around you every day.

Start with this exercise:

Sit down in the mall, a park, cafeteria — wherever there are a lot of smells, sights, noise. Use all your five senses to take in your surroundings and digest them throughout.

Do you hear the hiss of the espresso machine or the scraping of dry leaves? Are you overwhelmed by the cologne of the man sitting next to you, or do you smell the richness of damp earth or the aroma of the coffee? What does the bench or ground or bench feel like under you?

Take it all in, digest it. Then write!

Try to search for the best word to describe every single smell, sight, feeling, gesture, noise, and anything else you can really think of. If your writing is sadly missing any of the five mentioned senses — smell, sight, touch, sound, and even the taste — go back and try to rediscover it through observation.

Creativity through observation is a lot of effort, but once you’ve genuinely mastered it, your writing will be all the richer and more rewarding.

Next, let’s explore the importance of ‘focus’ in creativity.

When you think of creativity, you may not really think of focus. However, the focus is important for all writing, and the creative exercise is no different. Without focus, you’re wandering in a mire of rabbit trails and tangents that will leave your reader frustrated and confused.

Different writers obtain focus in various ways. Some direct their writing by producing comprehensive outlines of what they really want to say. Others start with a hazy idea of where they really want to end up. Others simply take an idea and begin writing. All different techniques are valid, and all offer their challenges when it comes to focused writing.

  1. If you operate from an outline, then make it as specific as possible and try to stick with it. Your focus may vary during the writing; that happens. If so, redo your basic outline so you remain on track with the new focus of your story.
  2. If you begin with a hazy idea of your ending, or no plan at all, just go with the flow. Then, you’ll have to keep going back and riding your writing of the impending deviations that have shown up along the way. It will be difficult-no one likes to “kill their babies,”-but the final result will genuinely please you.

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