I confess, writing microscopically is a term I believe I made up in my early days of teaching writing classes. Apparently I thought I was a modern day, female Shakespeare, creating words on a whim, but I felt like this term would communicate for itself.
I now know one thing: writing microscopically will work to improve your skills as a writer.
Observing an object close up and reporting what you see in great detail will help you no matter what genre you are working in. This technique will help you to see objects you have been living alongside in a new way.
I use this practice as a warm-up or to center myself when my brain doesn’t want to work alongside my fingers on the keyboard.
How is it done?
- Pick any object in front of you, extremely ordinary is best. I have had students use waste paper baskets and water bottles and those items have brought about writing a-ha’s. Don’t judge whatever seems to want to be written.
- Set a timer (one on your phone, in the kitchen or on your computer) for anywhere from one to five minutes and look very closely at that object. Describe what you are seeing. Note what you see precisely: first with very objective terms and then, if you have a longer time set on your timer, go more deeply into metaphor or allow your pencil to just float off, stream of consciousness style.
- Write in your notebook about the object from the time the timer starts until it goes off. Don’t question what you write, simply see it and write it.
Would you like some examples?
Peanut: The peanut was in its original form at first. Its shell, about a half an inch long, looked dry, crackly. I noticed it had easily chipped and seemed to be asking to be broken apart. I could hear the nut inside the shell when I held it in my hand. “Open me,” the nut begged as I shook it.
I opened the shell and two tiny nuts tumbled out. They almost appeared to be smiling, gratefully, to finally be laid bare and splintered upon the checked plastic tablecloth resting upon the formica bar room table, cracked like the peanut was only moments ago.
Drops of Water: The grey formica tabletop was covered with droplets from the paper fast food cup. Well, they were not covered exactly though there were remnants yes remnants from the cup . Each droplet sat at bored inattention. They were like a junior high math class at the end of the day. I watched and the drops slowly became less beadlike as gravity spread them off-center-out-of-center and becoming a smooshy globby glob all together on the table, morphing suddenly into a water-egg, waiting to be cracked and made into something useful.
Eyeglasses: The eyeglasses are the color of eggplant and rest on the yellow legal pad as if they were haphazardly dropped there. They had no case, they leaned against the scribbled legal pad as if they were passing the time at a coffee house, waiting for something interesting to happen. No eyes needed them, I suppose, as they sat with the wire visible when one looks through the unworn frames. The outside of the frames, sort of in the style of several years ago when Sarah Palin was running for Vice President, had at one time had rhinestones on them or some sort of fashion statement which had transformed into what looked like the head of a bunch of tiny nails from a tiny hammer held by a tiny construction worker. Apparently neither the glasses nor the nails were of much use anymore.
Are you ready to give it a try?
Pick an object, any old object and now.... write....
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© 2013 by Julie Jordan Scott
This is my ninth post (of 31!) for the January Ultimate Blog Challenge. Watch here for challenge posts which will include Writing Prompts, Writing Tips and General Life Tips and Essays.