Writers Are Keen Observers

Being clued in on what goes on in life
requires a writer to pay close attention
within and outside one’s world

This scene triggered the romance novelist in me. I could swear the two were whispering sweet nothings to each other. This is the keen observer and writer in me reacting while my husband stood by, scratching his head, wondering what’s the excitement about the nuzzling horses.

Observing allows an aspiring writer to witness a tiny piece of real life as it unfolds before one’s eyes or consciousness.

This is in contrast with reading that could offer a wealth of knowledge and open up a world full of second-hand experiences.

Observing life, in this context, is paying attention – dispassionately, as opposed to being nosy or gossipy – to what goes on in one’s environs and in other people’s situations.

To cite a few examples of detached observation from my cache of experience (with one exception) as an observer are the following –

First scenario:

*You’re in a fast-food restaurant on a weekend afternoon. You see families with young children happily and boisterously eating.

*You’re in a posh restaurant on a weekend evening. You see couples, maybe families with children as they dine.

Notice the differences, if any, between the demeanours of the family members while eating?

Second scenario:

*You live well outside the city center, travel time is an hour, and you take the number 143 bus to work every morning. The bus terminal is only a block away; hence, the bus is not even a quarter full.  

*When you board the bus, you see that the same young woman (office worker who likes fast fashion), a regular co-passenger to the City, is already on the seat across the aisle.

*After several blocks, a nice, smartly-dressed mature man (a new passenger of bus number 143) boards the bus. He takes the seat next to the young woman. There are several vacant seats in the bus.

This went on – the new passenger taking the seat beside the young woman – for many, many weeks.

Notice how, in the beginning, the young woman seemed frosty towards the man but thawed and turned the charm full on over several weeks of bus rides?

Notice when this came about?

Notice also when the young woman ceased wearing trendy clothes in exchange for conservative but smart clothing?

Third scenario:

This one is a classic and being dispassionate or non-judgmental might not be quite possible. (Note that this isn’t from my cache.)

*You work from home and you have a view of the street from your home-office window, which has a thin lace curtain.

*The postman does his rounds on a fairly regular basis. He usually passes by your house, whether or not there are mails to be delivered, shortly before 11:00 a.m.

*He then proceeds to your next-door neighbor, a recent divorcee, to deliver the mail.

*The postman knocks at the door, gets inside rather furtively, and does not come out until half past 12:00 p.m.

Notice when this unusual activity started? Was it before or after the divorce?

Don’t spread your guesswork. The lonely divorcee is perhaps just sharing with the equally lonely postman a home-cooked lunch.

Growing up well away from the countryside, the scene above transfixed me. Cows all heading in the same direction! Why? This, again, is the observer in me. I felt dumb, however, when I learned that they’re heading home. It’s that time of the day when they’re done grazing in the pastureland. But how did they know the time?

Make it a part of your routine, paying attention, whether you’re observing people or animals or nature.

Writers are accustomed to being keen observers of life, and aspiring writers should make it a part of their routine.

Just be consistent in your conscious and unbiased observation, and then tuck away those observations in your memory bank.

You will find those useful when you start your serious journey as a writer.

* * *

NOTE: An earlier version of this article was published here, in my blog. This version, meanwhile, is also published by Creative Juice! Publication on Medium.

Thank you very much for reading.

* * *

I’d like to connect with you. Find me on LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Medium | Vocal Media | Amazon Author’s Page | pinoypub.ph

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