I’m often inspired by what I see around me. This photograph was taken at the 34th street subway stop on the C train.
The saying, “A picture is worth more than 1000 words,” is so true. It’s the reverse engineering of that homily that’s the work of us writers: How do you create a visual image in as few words as possible, and with originality and wit?
Our job as writers is to paint pictures with our words and it’s often difficult to create an effective image purely from our imaginations.
As with everything else, practice is the secret. But how best to “practice” writing if you don’t want to use the story you’re working on? My solution is to use a writing exercise or prompt and then write for a specific length of time. That ‘s why I’ve embarked on this month long journey to write about an occasion from my life each day. I wanted to write about occasions as events that occur in the present as well as the past. When I took this photo, I was coming from a Landmark Forum seminar. I’ll use this new photo as my writing prompt in my next session.
I want to share this technique that I use with myself and my students.
Here’s the exercise:
1. Take or find a photo, or remember an event.
2. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
3. Describe the photo or event. For example, this photo is of a man waiting for a train.
4. Branch out and describe where you were when you took the photograph or a description about its history.
5. Describe what the photo to means to you. For example, “It’s the sign in this photograph that matters to me. ‘Moving toward center,’ is a visual reminder to me to remain calm, to be balanced when I dance, and to focus when I write.”
Every moment of your life can be an occasion. The “occasion” exercise becomes more potent when you connect it with a specific visual image before writing.
I’ll be on vacation for three weeks, so next newsletter will appear on Friday, July 19.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz