Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pay Attention In Your Writing

If there is one thing writers should remember, it is this:  Pay attention.

Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Listen, pay attention to what's turning in the world.

Our job as writers is to mine the ordinary, the commonplace.  Meaning resides in the conversation over coffee with a best friend; a walk in woods when a butterfly suddenly appears; the dead deer along the side of the road; the sound of neighborhood children running through a sprinkler on a hot summer day; the smell of spearmint your mother grew in her garden and put in your iced tea. 

Notice and learn from the things around you.  Knowing something is knowing how to be creative with it.  Writing about it brings understanding.

Some wonderful quotes to ponder:  "Our job as writers is to mine the commonplace by paying attention."  Richard Olsen. 

"What is a poem if not an overhearing of another human being making sense of the nonsense and wonder of life."  William Stafford.

Our writing prompt for the July 14  read-around at Wellington Square Bookshop: Listen, pay attention to what's turning in the world.
Start off with:  Pay attention . . . .
This writing prompt also reminds us that I will be offering a Life Writing Workshop on September 8, 2012 with Jerry Waxler at the Fairfield Inn in Exton, PA.  This all-day workshop will offer specific tools and strategies to mine the ordinary moments and memories of your life and turn them into compelling writing for personal essay, memoir, creative non-fiction, poetry or fiction.   The early bird special runs until August 1.

And one final quote to ponder:  "If you don't write, life is just one damn thing after another . . . "
Zen in the Art of Archery

NOTE:  Many thanks to June Gould, my writing instructor at this summer's International Women's Writing Guild  workshop who used this prompt - Pay Attention - in her class at Yale University.


jenny milchman said...

I love that--"the writer's purpose is to mine the ordinary". Just last week I had lunch with my editor and said that the books I loved to write captured ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

My editor said: I think that's what all great books are about.

So glad to have found your blog, Susan!

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thanks, Jenny. So glad your writing is going well.

So much humor and pathos in the ordinary - it is all there if we pay attention. Another great quote: "If you are a good writer these days, you pay attention to the way that people don't pay attention." Lorrie Moore.

Jeanne said...

Wonderful blog, Susan. Visited from linkedIn and signed. You offer some very interesting information. Thank you.
Jeanne E. Rogers.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Jeanne, I love your blog. What a fabulous and creative idea to create fantasy animal stories for young children. And many, many thanks for visiting the Women's Writing Circle all the way from Australia! This is so cool and what I love about the Internet.