expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>
Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Number One Ingredient in Great Writing

 As you know by now, I attended Roundup about a week and a half ago. There was a stellar lineup of classes and speakers and, inevitably, I didn't get to listen to them all. Every year there’s at least one hour when two classes are taught that I want to attend, and I have to choose. One class I didn't attend, but wanted to, was on creativity, where it comes from and what exactly it is. I went to a different class that I wanted to hear just a bit more, but I thought this was an intriguing idea.

My niece Cheveya looking out the window.
This is a picture of my niece, Cheveya (also known as Eve, Munchkin, Baby, and Stay-out-of-the-toilet!) She likes to get up on the couch and look out the window. She’s not quite two years old, so she has a very limited vocabulary. Most of what comes out of her mouth is just baby gibberish. When she looks out the window this way, she pounds on the glass and waves to our neighbors and passersby. She screeches when she sees dogs or cats, and whimpers with fear when a loud car or plane passes.

She’s just naturally curious and LOVES being outside. When she can’t go out, she looks out the window.

I think that’s how writers are as well. We’re naturally curious about everything in the human condition. We like to learn about it,observe it, explore it, and find ways to deepen it.

I’m sure you’ve all heard this a million times, but I’ll say it again: if you want to be a great writer, you need to be a great reader. Reading is one of the best ways to observe human behavior and learn to analyze human motivations. I always say I’m not much of a people watcher, but I am a people analyzer. I analyze everything to death. (What can I say? I’m a writer.) Besides, if I spent my afternoons on a park bench creeping people out by staring at them as they pass me and scribbling ominous things in a composition notebook, I probably wouldn’t be very popular.

Cheveya's adorable Sunday morning face!
I’m not really sure what this post is about except to say: Be like Cheveya. No, don’t play in the toilet water when Mommy isn’t looking. But be naturally curious about everything around you. Take delight in everything you observe, and strive to learn something from it. Children are that way. They can be positively bowled over by the smallest things. They can teach us to live in the moment and savor every experience, be it sensory, emotional, or spiritual.

So the next time you get writer’s block or just don’t feel very inspired, go to your window, look out, and ask yourself what you see. Or perhaps, what a child would see. Chances are that somewhere in Utah, a blue-eyed two-year-old has her face pressed against a window, and is gibbering to her novelist aunt about the wonders of the outside world.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone! :D


  1. Windows... I doubt many other people do this but when I look at paintings that have windows in them, either seen from the interior or exterior, I always want to know what's on the other side of that window. Sometimes the artist will give just a tantalizing hint at what's there but for the most part I have to use my imagination to see the street or landscape outside, or the room inside. This has nothing to do with writing of course, except that it does. :o) As you say, curiosity--about anything and everything--is a writer's greatest asset. I like to say that even when I am not writing, I am always working as a writer. Anything that I see, do, experience, can spark the next idea.

    Michael K. Rose

  2. Very cute post :) Children are naturally creative! :)