The Mastery Path for Writers: a new way to learn the skills you need

Lesson 15: Using Material from Observation

August 4, 2014

Tags: 5. The Power of Observation

When you practice using your powers of observation, you make that faculty stronger. In the process, you also collect a lot of material that you can use in pieces of writing. As you gather your material, and live with it for a while, you will find your own ways of using it. (Don’t forget, though, that you don’t have to use it, if you don’t want to; the most important value of the practice of observation is to strengthen that faculty.) Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

PRACTICE: OBSERVATION AS A SPRINGBOARD
Read through the sensory details you have collected during your practice of observation sessions. Now turn to another page in your notebook and do ten minutes of freewriting. What happened when you did this?

PRACTICE: USING COLLECTED DETAILS
Read through the sensory details you have collected during your practice of observation sessions and mark any that stand out for you. If you like, write the details you have selected on a new page. Now use these details to tell a story, make a poem, write an essay, or do any other kind of writing that appeals to you. As you do this, you need not use all of the details you chose, and you can add any other details you like.

PRACTICE: ADD DETAILS TO WORK-IN-PROGRESS
Read through the sensory details you have collected during your practice, with an eye to seeing if any of them—or details like them—could be added to a draft of a piece you are working on.

After you have done one or more of these practices a few times, you may want to reflect on what you are noticing about using your faculty of observation. How can it be helpful to you as a writer? Do you have any ideas about how to continue making it stronger?