May 17th 2013 09:00
Fortune-Cookie Wisdom Returns
I've written about fortune-cookie wisdom for writers before, and the insights were so amazingly suitable to the craft that after ordering Chinese food the other night, I was eager to crack open my two fortune cookies to see what kind of writing lessons they might hold in store -- and I wasn't disappointed. I'll write about fortune-cookie lesson number one today and number two later.
"You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability." Could that admonition be any more appropriate for a writer? That's precisely what we writers must do to achieve the level of self-expression that inspires our readers. As writers, we need to see the world in a way most other people don't.
Everything in life -- no matter how ordinary it may appear -- isn't. Why? Because it has so many amazing lessons to teach us. That, in itself, makes almost any object beautiful -- on an internal if not external level. Why not try it. Look at the most mundane object you can find and begin thinking about what that object has to teach you about life and how you can apply that lesson to your writing. This is actually a great exercise -- one that I've engaged in before -- and I was surprised how much I learned from a whole array of common, everyday items.
Here's an example I wrote during one Middle Zone Musings WILF (What I Learned From) exercise:
Trains are virtually unstoppable—as long as they remain on track. They teach us that we, too, will be unstoppable if we maintain our focus, build momentum, stay on track, and keep our eyes on the destination ahead.
Now, you try it. This exercise will not only help you gain philosophical insight that can benefit your writing. It will also hone your powers of observation when you use items you can actually look at, improving your ability to effectively describe the objects about which you write -- a critical skill for every writer to master. Even the items you aren't actually able to look at can bring many insights to your writing through visualization. They can also bring insight through mental, emotional, and philosophical comparisons, such as my train analogy.
Never lose the ability to see the beauty in ordinary things, because that beauty will make your writing extraordinary!
To your powers of observation!
What common everyday objects have taught you lessons that can be applied to your writing?