Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are You A Watch Dog?

Young black dog sleeping on the grass Stock Photo - 12681379

We are at our daughter's home for a short visit. I was up very early this morning so I could see the children before the school bus arrived at 6:45 a.m. Awfully early for little kids to be ready to go to school, but they're totally into the routine. Cole, who is finishing kindergarten this month, was watching TV after he'd eaten breakfast. Their big,black dog ambled over to be petted. I complied and was stroking her soft fur and I asked, "Did you sleep well, Macy?" 

Cole popped up from where he was laying on the sofa. "She never sleeps, Grandma. She's a Watch Dog!" 

I told him that Macy does sleep, but she has really good ears, and if she hears the slightest thing, she wakes up and keeps an eye on the house. Cole nodded his head, said, "Yes, she does." and went back to watching his show. 

So how about your writer's ears? Are they tuned in to possible writing subjects? You might not hear things while you're asleep like Watch Dog Macy does, but all during your waking hours, you should have your ears ready to pick up on possible story ideas. 

Have you ever heard snatches of conversation as you pushed your cart down the aisle of your favorite grocery store? You might hear an especially interesting phrase now and then, something you can use in dialogue in a fiction story. Waiting in a doctor's reception area is a perfect spot to leaf through a magazine while you keep your ears perked up. You come across some amazing things in a place like that. Or at one of your kids or grandkids ballgames.  

The point here is that, as writers, we need to be very much aware of our surroundings. Not just what we hear but also what we see, maybe even what we smell or taste or even touch. On a fall day, when neighbors are burning leaves, take a good whiff and think about how you'd describe it in a story. What does  ice cream taste and feel like when you take that first bite? Think about it. When you run your hand across a bolt of fabric at a craft store, consider what it feels like. 

Train yourself to be a Watch Dog wherever you go. You'll gather gold for your writing if you do.

My grandchildren and their parents have all left for the day. As for Macy--she's in her favorite chair, sound asleep. But I bet she's listening. After all, she's a Watch dog!


  1. You make a good point here. I was having a debate with a writer friend who was horrified that she didn't see many people reading on public transit. To her, that was a complete waste of time, to not pull out a book when there is nothing else to do.

    I pointed out to her that being on the bus or subway was a wonderful place/time to people watch and listen to conversations all around. In fact, although I adore reading and do so at every opportunity, on public transit, my book or Kindle usually end up staying unopened because I enjoy the theatre of the people around me instead.

  2. What a great idea and you got it from your watch dog. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Nancy, I found you on the Blogathon list and love your blog. Since a recent job loss this last year I have turned to my first love of writing and I think your blog is going to be super helpful and encouraging! Thanks!