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.

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