Friday, May 20, 2011

Writerly Habits

Today, Advice To Writers posted a Garrison Keillor quote:
When writing loses touch with the beautiful surface of the world, it loses its way. You always want to be in touch with how things look and what people say and what they call their dogs.

This reminded me of a favorite exercise and a favorite practice for writers. 

A favorite exercise

This is from Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. The books gives sensible advice and exercises, useful to both fiction and nonfiction writers. One exercise asks you to contact five acquaintances and get the names of their dogs. He then asks you to list the names in the order that sounds best.

A favorite practice

I cannot remember the source of the practice, but someone suggested that every day, a writer should write down five things he or she sees. I've fallen out of this habit, but perhaps tonight I'll fall back in again.

What are your habits or practices that keep your work "in touch with the beautiful surface of the world?"

The Roy Peter Clark book is on my top 5 list of writing books. You can read the rest of my picks here.


  1. I will have to try the observation and dog name exercise! For my part, I like to take a walk or soak in the tub -- anything that gets me out of my work setting at home. I think a change of scenery can do a lot to inspire creativity and the writing process. My blog on Friday was about places that inspire - and I referenced my trip to a Hindu temple. I also am inviting others to share their places of inspiration. See:

  2. Really beautiful place you visited, thanks for sharing it with us (and for stopping by!)