Writing in the rain

The rain is softly pattering down on my roof.  The sky is covered in light gray cotton clouds and the trees outside my window are that brilliant shade of green that only comes when the heavens wash the earth clean.

I would like to go back to bed. It is a perfect sleeping day.  Even the kids haven’t gotten up yet.  Although, if I did go back to sleep I would have missed the observations that I have already made.  I wouldn’t have a fresh memory of what wet leaves smell like, the sound of rain falling on the tent roof, or the squish of wet grass under my feet as I took the trash to the curb.

Writers observe. Or at least good writers do. It’s like one of those unwritten writing rules or something.  Pay attention to what is going on.  Look at the details.  Let the observations come.

On bad days I like to play a game with myself.  When I am at work and I have to deal with someone who is being particular difficult, I pick them apart with the writing half of my brain.  I may be standing there nodding my head to whatever they are ranting about, but the rest of me is watching how the stand, listening to the tone in their voices, and taking notes on their gestures.   It makes the day go by faster and it helps me not lose my temper, but most importantly it enriches my writing.

I may not remember everything the person said or did but my subconscious retains most of it.  Ray Bradbury talks about doing this in his book Zen and the Art of Writing,  so I am not the first person to come up with it.  A lot of writers do it. You probably do it too to some extent even if you don’t realize it.  Try making a more focused effort to notice the little things. Use all five senses if you can.  (Taste can be a little tricky. Save taste for edible non toxic things. No one wants to go to the hospital and explain that you ate that poisoned mushroom or bug repellent covered rose to enrich your writing.)


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