Have You Noticed? There’s a Big Beautiful World Out There

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

No, I don’t think you have noticed. Because your head is probably bent at the neck (terrible position for your body, by the way) so that you can look at your phone.

Looking down at an electronic gadget instead of engaging with the world.

I’ve got news for you, my writing friends. This is a problem. A big problem.

Because there’s a big, beautiful world out there, and you’re missing it. And because you are missing it, you won’t be able to put it into your writing. Instead of engaging with the world in all its glory (and agony), you’re passively receiving information. You’re not creating, you’re consuming. You’re not observing (part of every writer’s job), you’re scrolling. Mindlessly.

I know this, because I get caught in it, too.

But lately I’ve been making a huge effort not to constantly be engaged with my phone. And yesterday as I was driving home from an appointment, the following words popped into my mind:

Breathe. Observe.

Excellent advice, I told myself. And immediately noticed the feathery pattern the leaves of a tall tree made against the sky. Of course, I was driving, so I wasn’t looking at my phone. Though I will admit to wrangling it out of my purse to see if a text I awaited came through.

So, here’s my advice to you. Stop yourself from picking up your phone three times today. Instead, take a deep breath. Center yourself wherever you are. Look around. And note:

What you see

What you hear

What you smell

What you feel

What you taste

Now write those down in your writer’s notebook. Rinse and repeat. This exercise will help you get unhooked from your phone, increase your focus, and yes, improve your writing.

Go try it and report back, okay?

Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of the novel Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior (Vagabondage Press, February 2013), and articles published in magazines such as Vogue Knitting, The Oregonian and Pology, to name only a few, and her short fiction has been published in Somerset Studios, The Trunk and the Santa Fe Writer’s Project. She earned her MFA in creative writing at Spalding University in 2003, and has been teaching and coaching writers ever since, both privately and as an adjunct professor at Middle Tennessee State University’s Write program. Charlotte now leads workshops in Portland, Nashville, and France. She’s been blogging about writing, creativity, and motivation at charlotterainsdixon.com since 2007. She is repped by Erin Niumata at FolioLiterary. Visit her website at charlotterainsdixon.com and her travel site at letsgowrite.com.