It’s easy to say that being a writer begins with language: After all, we only have 26 letters and a smattering of punctuation marks with which to create meaning. But the truth is being a writer begins with the eye and ear: Using our powers of observation to absorb the world around us and then draw meaning from it.
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Amy E. Weldon, Associate Professor of English at Luther College, is here to help writers exercise the power of observation in her new book The Writer’s Eye: Observation & Inspiration for Creative Writers.
“Our writing is transformed and invigorated when we see writing as a process of being in ongoing relationship with the world beyond our own heads, and when we see language as the estuarial zone in which our own perceptions, the needs of our readers, and the realities of the external world mingle richly to create something new. ‘Writing’ isn’t only in here, in your own head – it’s out there, in images, actions, and sense impressions waiting to be set to words,” she writes. “When we wake up and look around, we are preparing ourselves to write before we ever lift a pen.”
Using classic examples and hands-on writing exercises, Weldon walks scribes through a variety of craft subjects like world-building, revision, and finding a writer’s voice.
“Rewrite an important moment in your piece under the following constraints: a) sentences of no more than 15 words (including a, and, and the) each; b) words of no more than 2 syllables each; c) no adjectives except those of the five senses (rough, blue, bright, cold, sour, red),” reads one writing prompt.
“In your memory, open the door or lid of a space remembered from childhood and belonging to an adult relative…and write about what’s inside,” reads another.
As the book draws to an end, Weldon shares career advice, including helpful sample submission letters for literary journals and agent queries. It closes with an impressive selection of recommended reading broken down by genre, including a long list of suggested anthologies.