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First things first: you don’t have to ditch egg salad to be a better writer. This isn’t about that; this is about paying attention. Looking up from the egg salad.
With that said, check out this photo:
I took this shot on a freakin’ frozen tundra of a day here in Connecticut. While I don’t usually complain about cold weather in, you know, winter, it was 1 degree and windy as a mofo. And I’m not ok with that.
The flip side: it was gorgeous. The trees glittered for two straight days. Icicles formed everywhere, in the most unusual places and patterns.
And I found these berries as well as a glorious frozen shrub.
Had I strapped on crampons and hiked somewhere impressive to get these shots? Waited for the golden hour so the light would be just so?
No. I was eating egg salad in the driver’s seat of a loaner car parked in an Ikea parking lot when I saw these.
And that’s the point. Do you pay attention to detail? Are you so habituated to doing so that you find hidden gems when you’re not even trying?
Related: Using clarity and story in your writing, or What Elections Teach Us About Writing.
That’s the kind of practice that will improve your writing, not to mention make your life more interesting (and enjoyable) in general.
Beauty is everywhere. Do you believe that? If not, at least trust that visual interest is everywhere — and you can use it to add life to your stories and become a better writer.
Here’s another angle. You can see I-95 in the background, the snow-covered curb of the parking lot. Looks a little blah, right?
This is your rough draft.
You’re standing back, looking at your story. You know there’s potential here. You’ve got a picture in your mind, but it hasn’t materialized on paper yet.
You step in and look closer. You’re searching for something small but mighty, the detail that will impart the emotion or the meaning you seek. Something to add power to your prose.
And then it shows up
When you get in close, you find the details that make your story pop. You add personality and connection to your website. You describe your business’ purpose exquisitely.
You become a better writer, and you have more fun doing it.
(Getting in close is also a great way to deconstruct issues in your personal life. Check out this post: Move In Close: A Simple Way To Forgive Yourself.)
So what are you writing? Is it like the photo above, or more like this one?
For most people, it’s the one above. When you learn to step in closer, you’ll immediately set yourself apart.
Tell me how a small detail has improved something you’ve written!
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