One of the main tenets of Everyday Writing is to be aware of one’s surroundings, i.e., to be an Everyday Writer by paying closer attention to the world around you — to capture every detail, every snippet of dialogue, every little tidbit you can in order to enrich your creative life. It’s something I work on every day myself — and, I’ve just realized, something I may need to work on a little harder.
Now that the weather is lovely, I’ve been making a point to walk in the woods every day. This isn’t always possible, but I do my best. Exercise and fresh air aside, it’s a great way to rest one’s brain, to clear it of its clutter and make room for creativity. (All writers should go for walks, if they can — whether it’s in the woods, around a lake, or around a busy city block, getting out into the world is good for the senses and for awakening one’s sleeping inner writer.)
I usually walk solo, of course, but over the weekend I took a walk along the same trail with my husband, who noticed something I’d apparently passed by dozens of times without noticing. He took a photo of it with his phone:
As someone who thinks of herself as fairly observant (and as someone whose husband isn’t usually all that observant), I couldn’t believe I’d missed this lovely little statue, just to the right of the trail.
In my defense, the statue is about ten feet off the trail, not exactly noticeable unless you’re really looking around. And, as my husband kindly pointed out, when you’re alone on a trail (or walking first, as I was that day with him), you’re looking ahead and paying attention in other ways (we have bears and cougars in these hills, and one always has to be at least a little alert for these creatures). But still — how had I not noticed this (now very obvious) statue in the middle of the woods?
This is, for me, an excellent reminder that no matter how observant we think we are, we could always open our eyes a little wider. Not to mention our ears, our hearts, our minds. Ever since this discovery, I’ve make a point to look outward just a bit more than usual. I leave my cell phone at home when I run errands, preventing me from turning to it when I feel a moment of boredom. And just the other day, when I was at the hair salon, having purposely left my phone at home and taken nothing to read, I got a new idea for a story (or perhaps even a novel) while I was in the chair. (And those moments are a lot more fun and interesting than checking email for the eighth time in an hour.)
When you’re a writer, there’s no such thing as being bored — but there is such a thing as being overly distracted. So leave the distractions behind whenever you can, and open yourself up to a little “boredom.” You may not capture everything going on in the world around you, but what does draw your attention could be wonderful fodder for your work.