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A Writing Exercise That Increases Awareness And Description Skills
by: Catherine Franz
Practice attaching words to feelings requires time to do.
Without a system that helps you monitor that time, the
minutes or hours could feel unproductive. With the right
exercise, you can then use that time wisely, as well as save
you time and frustration.

Learning to apply the right words to our six senses is a top
ingredient to the mixture of writing. Its language brings
the reader into the story. All of us easily know how we
feel, or what we're seeing (okay, most of the time), what
we're hearing, smelling, tasting, and sensing, and can
usually explain it in 50 words if pushed to do it. But, how
do you describe it in one or two words without the pushing?

Also, by beginning with good material, the remaining part of
the writing process becomes easier. This exercise will help
you improve your beginning.

This is a simple exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime,
in a space of minutes or longer. You can practice Monday
mornings in the garden, the doctor’s waiting room, or in the
lunchroom. It can last as long as a television commercial
(oops those aren't short any longer), or you more
aggressively with a devoted 30-minutes a day. Whatever
length of time or place you have, it will always improve
your skill.

You will want to sit while completing this exercise.

Okay, let's start with the most difficult spot, your
supplies -- paper and your writing instruments. Landscape,
portrait, small, or regular size sheet of paper doesn't
matter. I define what paper size to use by the amount of
time available and my location. If I'm mobile, I use my
small journal. If I'm at my desk or at home, I use a
regular size paper. Sometimes lines, sometimes not.
Sometimes the exercise flows over to two or three sheets.
Don't limit the experience by paper size. Have fun with the
recording tools as well. Experimentation is the key to our
curiosity. And, curiosity is the foundation of a writer.

Draw a circle on the page and place your name in the center.
Large, small, in color, black, or blue, again it doesn't
matter. Use whatever flips your pancakes at that moment.
In other words, whatever feels good at the time.

Your objective is to describe your five senses, six if you
have that gift, with words. Write the words that express
that sense in the space inside the circle randomly around
your name.

Here is how you would use this exercise to increase
environment awareness and description. Write your words in
the location on the paper relevant to the direction it
appears. For example: I'm sitting outside my office on a
9th floor balcony at the moment, I hear a heavy humming from
the tires on the wet pavement below and birds chirping above
me to the right. I would place the words for the tires on
the bottom left and the chirping on the upper right on my

Here are nine prompts to help you expand your experience.
* Write words describing your atmosphere--the quality of
* What are the clouds doing? Can you see animals in their
* The temperature of your location.
* The source of light and its quality.
* Where are people standing or sitting?
* Shadows, are they're any? Where and how do they fall?
* Predominant colors, wall colors, wallpaper, molding, chair
railing, textured ceiling.
* What do you smell? Using comparisons are a great way to
relate to your reader. The air feels like just getting out
of the fogged shower stall.
* Are there other people around you? How do they smell,
their clothes, their shoes? Guess at what they might do for
a living. Are they dressed like someone on their way to
work, doesn't work, a mom, dad, baker, or what?

After you are comfortable describing your environment, spice
the exercise up another notch. Compare your descriptive
words to something else. For example: The room you are
sitting in feels like a sauna with my clothes on.

Continue spicing up the exercise to increase your awareness
and descriptive powers--use people and objects. Since you
are most familiar with yourself, begin there.

After practicing on the most familiar subject, yourself,
create a list of other familiar people in your life. Then
sort the list from most familiar to least. Continue down
the list. Somewhere during these lists and practice
sessions, you will begin to feel comfortable with your

You can continue taking the exercise to another level. This
time you are ready to expand your awareness and adaptation
to words. Visit the local mall; sit in the food court for
smorgasbord of new enriching thoughts-to-words experiences.

Here are 11 prompts to help you expand your levels:
* Describe what you are wearing.
* How does your body feel?
* What are your hands doing?
* How does your throat feel?
* How are you holding your mouth?
* Eye movement
* Breathing
* How do you feel in general, in detail?
* Name your mood. Does it have a flavor and color?
* Describe your feelings with reference to music. A certain
song or type of music.
* How does your hair smell, clothes, the chair you're
sitting on, the book you're reading?

Be patient with yourself while practicing. This exercise
isn't the easiest to complete, however, it is the most
effective. Even if you aren't a writer, this exercise will
help you triple your awareness skills in a short time
period1. This exercise also helps police officers,
speakers, judges, attorneys, or anyone else that uses their
awareness skills to see and put it into words. This is also
a NLP--neurolinguistics programming skill--for those aware
of this process.

About the author:
Catherine Franz provides writing and marketing assistance
to individuals who want to write and businesses that want to
increase business. For more ideas and programs, visit The
Abundance Center at:

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