Thursday, May 27, 2010

More On The Writer's Eye

A little incident in my kitchen this morning made me think about yesterday's post.

There was only a small amount of milk left in the container, so I moved it from the fridge door to the top shelf, then went out to the garage fridge and got a new half-gallon to put in the usual spot.

A few minutes later, while I was busy responding to an e-mail, Ken got out the milk. The brand new one, not the one that needed to be finished up.

When I got back to the kitchen, I said, "Why didn't you finish up the old one first."

"I didn't see one," said he

"It was right there on the top shelf. How could you miss it when you opened the door?"

"Why would I look there?" He looked at me like I'd lost it. "That's not where we keep the milk."

Well, he had a point, which I conceded as I put the almost-empty milk container on the counter. But it did make me think that perhaps writer's do look at things a little differently. Maybe our brains are focused on finding a story, so we do look at our surroundings in a manner that others do not. When I open the fridge door, my eye takes in everything on that top shelf, as it's right at eye level. Am I going to find a story on the top shelf of my fridge? Doubtful in most cases, but look what happened here. I had a story involving that milk container.

If you don't have that writer's eye yet, work on it. You can train yourself to have it. When you go outside for a walk, look around and ask yourself questions like "what if?" and also try to see more than a tree with a limb hanging down from last night's storm. What if that tree had been planted at a special time in someone's life? How would they feel when they saw it? What kind of tree is it? How big? How old? Anyone can walk by and see a tree, but a writer can find a story there.

Exercise your writer's eye throughout your day.

One last thought on the milk container. Either Ken doesn't have a writer's eye, or it's jut a guy thing. I'm inclined to think the latter is right. How many times has a man stood in front of a cabinet with door open hollering to you that he can't find _________. Then you walk in and pluck it from the shelf and hand it to him. That whole scene could turn into a full essay someday.


  1. "Am I going to find a story on the top shelf of my fridge?" Interesting! This really got me thinking. I am going to "look" outside of the fridge today. And I love your "what if?" exercise. OK...your post and Helen's got the juices flowing this morning! But I can't write until later...darn it!

  2. Frustrating when you're ready to write and Life gets in your way. Jot down a few notes for later to trigger your earlier thoughts.


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