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Heartfelt - Exploring Your Writing Through Your Senses

Creativity comes to us in many forms. We are born with talent, or we earn it through study and diligence. But most artists know that training alone will not give you inspiration. It comes from many places. Senses help us navigate the world and provide us with enough stimulation and inspiration to make a lifetime habit of our art. What wakes you up in the middle of the night with a burst of an idea? Have you ever had a feeling so deep that it compelled you to your computer or canvas? One advantage of being an artist is being in touch with our intuitive nature. We have developed our senses so we can be fine-tuned to the inspiration that is all around us.

You can’t escape the need to follow a creative urge. The impulses that drive creativity can come in many shapes. Trusting the promptings that intuition gives you can lead to unexpected creative surprises. I know some of my best writing comes when I trust my gut and write with my heart.

Consider that each sense has an intuitive aspect. The force that drives you to the bakery and the smell of apple pie that reminds you of your first taste becomes the catalyst for a great article on food. Hearing a splendid piece of classical music can inspire you to paint the best painting you have ever done. Intuition can be a little more ephemeral, but it is powerful. Intuition prompts you through the senses to lead you to the unfolding of a wonderful work of art.

What steps can you take to develop your intuition?

Discover your feelings

We live in a busy, chaotic world. All the busyness distracts us from our genuine feelings. Being an artist prompts us to be in tune with our feelings and the world. If we limit our feelings, we could limit our art. Imagine an artist who only paints in black and white not because he is making an artistic statement but because he refuses to step outside his artistic and emotional comfort zone. As an artist, you a certain style and still explore something different. Explore your feelings, the good and the bad ones. Meditate — allowing your mind to quiet. Meditation can focus your thoughts and get you more in tune with your feelings and your senses.

Trust your feelings

Sometimes we avoid our feelings because they are difficult to deal with. They can lead us to some extraordinary insights and our greatest works of art. Intuition can come from many directions. But it can be the funny feeling that settles in your gut. A strange sensation may make you go for the extra doughnut, but you sit at your computer and work on that great American novel.

Follow your yearnings

Ever had the desire to go buy a set of crayons? Did a thought of starting to play the harmonica suddenly strike you during a staff meeting? Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a perfect poem spilling out of you? These creative urges are the prompting of your intuitive nature. Follow them.

Creative writing prompts: Follow your wild side

• Explore your senses: eat, drink, and be creative.

• Trust your intuitive side, the side that asks you to be just a little wild. Follow those yearnings that have you pick up a box of crayons. The art does not have to be great. Play.

• Trust your creative side. Be the wonderful artist that you are right at this moment. Enjoy life and all the wonderful things it offers.

Photo by Jen Theodore

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Hi, I’m Sandra, a multi-content creator, who helps busy small business owners, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs create compelling content on-air, online, and in person. I collaborate with other writers, editors, and marketing specialists to provide the best content for you and your business. I love diving into new areas and learning what a new client has to offer. I will bring my curiosity and love of research to your business. I specialize in friendly conversational content but can work with a variety of genres. 

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Taste - Exploring Your Writing Through Your Senses

Food, glorious food, we can’t escape it. The taste, the texture, the way sugar dissolves on the tongue. How salt brings out the flavor in our meals. Food thrills us. It can torment us with desire. I don’t know many of us who successfully live without food. Without it, we die. Food represents who we are.

Taste. A good meal shared with friends is a sublime pleasure. We live in the best of times because we can taste so many things. A neighborhood is a feast of tactile delights. The Korean store is next to the Turkish market and across the boulevard from a string of Restaurants that include Thai, Dominican, Mexican, Romanian, and a McDonald’s just across from a Subway franchise. There is a taste of delight for everyone. I am happy to live in a place where I can sample a variety of foods and all the intricacies of taste.

Gourmet magazine used to publish an anthology of food-related stories. Food was the central character. Taste is paramount in each story. The driving forces are the sensuality, the texture, the pleasure of food. Taste is an early primal memory. Taste ties much of our memory to it; our mother’s milk or the bottle that gave us that first visceral sensation that we live with all our lives.

In the book, Like Water for Chocolate, the principal character took food to a new level when her emotions embodied the food she cooked. Her pain or pleasure translated into the food. If you ate her dishes, you embody that emotion. There is magic connected to food, to the earth, and to the history of recipes passed down through the generations. The family history was told through these recipes. Each bite, each taste was like eating history, full of all the emotions of the stories that wrapped around each meal.

Taste stimulates wonderful things. Our lives revolve around the memory of how things taste. The smell of apple pie can bring us back to a time when we were happy, or it can remind us of what we have missed. These memories inform our creativity. Art reflects our need for food. Luscious fruits spill from paintings. Movies are full of scenes of eating. They devote an entire TV network to just food!

We can’t get away from it. Food, the taste of it, and our memories continue to feed our creativity.

Creative Writing Prompts: Taste

• Name a favorite food from your childhood, teenage, and young adult years, and where you are now. It could be the same food or a portion of fresh food for each period. What made that a favorite food? What are the memories associated with it? As an example, I have a fondness for French fries. I am reminded of the ones my father would bring home. They were slightly soggy, salty, and wrapped in brown paper. These fries were a special treat we loved to eat.

• Culinary reading — Find some food-related poems, stories, or books. What appeals to you about them? What scared or amazed you?

• Taste is Sweet — The book Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write has some wonderful writing exercises centered on food. If you have a chance pick it up and give it a try.

• Pick some food of different tastes and textures. Feel it, touch it, smell it, and taste it. See the food as if for the very first time. Write your impressions. Write a poem of a short story around the food item or items you have selected.

• Remember, that taste is a sense that can inspire us. We have the unique advantage to experience it most of the time. Explore it and let food be your muse.

Smell - Exploring Your Writing Through Your Senses

Sniff, sniff. Sniff. Do you smell that? Is that the scent of creativity filling the air? Of all the senses, this one can really affect you in multiple ways. According to the now-defunct Sense of Smell Institute, the average human being can recognize approximately 10,000 different odors. They said, “And a connection between artists and scent can be traced back at least as far as Leonardo da Vinci, who had such an abiding interest in fragrances that he listed among his many duties for Ludovico il Moro in Milan the practice of court perfumer.”

Typing at your computer limits you to the screen in front of you. Using a journal can give you more sensual opportunities. Choose a journal not just for its visual pleasure but for the smell of the new leather and paper in the journal. Have you ever walked into a room and sniffed the air? Your mood can shift completely by its smell.

We have a long memory regarding scents. Our childhood is full of scent experiences. Discovering our own body odors is a revelation. A smell can send us back to our earliest memories. Places have a smell of their own. Incense lingers in churches, hospitals have a medicinal smell, subways, at least in NYC, have a multitude of smells that can assault the nose and our memory.

The sense of smell is complicated. Many fun things have to happen to get our nose going. It is a defense mechanism. If you watch a show on animals in the wild, you can observe that their sense of smell kicks in. A lion may be deep in the grasses just observing its prey, but the prey has already picked up its scent. An antelope is quietly sipping water and suddenly its head bounces up. You can see it sniffing the air and taking off in the opposite direction.

There are many products out to eliminate bad smells. Watch TV and you will see candles for the kitchen, sprays for offensive sneakers, cleaners that will leave their lemony scent clean smell long after we have mopped our floors. We seem to want to eliminate smells from our repertory of senses. In doing so, we can lose something vital to us. Do we want our olfactory memory to be a floor cleaner?

As writers, we do ourselves and our audience an injustice if we don’t include this potent sense in our writing. But it’s difficult to write about a sense of smell. What if someone has never smelled a gardenia? How can you describe it? It is our job to search out the words to describe what may be elusive. Smells are so visceral, taking our readers to places buried deep into their memory. The smell of a particular food can unleash memories and feelings associated with it. We have a vast storehouse of story ideas just from the sense of smell.

The sense of smell plays a vital role in our sense of well-being and quality of life. The sense of smell brings us into harmony with nature, warns us of dangers, and sharpens our awareness of other people, places, and things. It helps us to respond to those we meet, can influence our mood, how long we stay in a room, who we talk to, and who we want to see again.

Whether a scent is unpleasant or delightful, we can gain much from exploring everything it offers. We can create great poetry or terrifying prose. The smell, as a sense, it is hard to do without. When combined with our other senses we become masters of our creative universe.

Creative Writing Prompts: Smell

• Go on a smelling adventure. Travel to a food court and see if you can identify the food by the smells. You will need a discerning nose to get past initial prejudices of how you think a food court might smell.

• Raid your refrigerator and sniff things out. Remember, some foods release their smell as they warm up.

• Use your thesaurus and look up some synonyms for the word, smell. Describe five things you sniffed out on your smelling adventures.

• Write a piece of poetry or prose around the sense of smell.

• Sniff out some smelly tales that have already been written.

Touch - Exploring Your Writing Through Your Senses

As artists, it is important to engage in all our senses as fully as possible. Think of a potter out of touch with her clay. She might create technically correct pieces, yet they lack a certain feeling to them. There is a potter whose work I love. I like to hold her pieces. They vibrate. Each piece seems to have a special energy. Each item in her collection has a feeling of love in it. Wouldn’t each of us want our work to elicit that kind of energy?

Do you remember the first thing you ever touched? Most likely you don’t. When you were young your senses were on fire. Every touch was a fresh experience. Watch a baby and how they react to new textures. It surprises them. You can see the baby trying to figure out what it is they are feeling. Even when touching something they don’t like they are still willing to keep exploring.

How can that happen? First, remember what it’s like to feel. Explore the world as if you were a child again. Don’t take for granted the ordinary things. As you watch TV feel the remote control. That’s right, the remote control. It is an ordinary thing with a shape and a feel to it. There is a weight to it. A push of the button can take you to great heights or TV lows. Holding an ordinary thing like a remote can move you through the world, time, and history.

An ordinary object can be the catalyst for outstanding works of art, stimulating the imagination and creating worlds for others to enjoy. As we touch, we feel, and we imbue the world with our graces. It is the experience of our every day. The life that fuels the muse. Significant works come from daily experiences.

In the movie Tommy, the title character loses most of his senses because of a traumatic experience. Though he can no longer feel in the same way, he can still feel by touch, and that sense of touch leads to success. We may not want to lose all of our senses to gain success, but taking the time to explore each sense can open up new worlds of possibility for our art.

As writers, we may not think our work can stimulate the sense of touch. If you love to read you know the pleasure of holding a book in your hands. The weight of the books, their textures, even the smell can make you smile. We become intimate with characters in books and stories. Keep exploring the world with your senses. Touch everything. Use this sense to guide you towards your journal writing topics.

Creative Writing Prompts: Touch

• Explore the world through touch. Choose objects with different textures. For example; pick an orange, a piece of velvet, sandpaper, and a doll. Close your eyes and pick up each object. What are the sensations you feel? What emotions do you feel? What images do they invoke?

• Write a story or poem about the images, sensations, and emotions that you discovered while holding each object.