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Welcome to week two! I hope your day of rest yesterday allowed thoughts to bubble up and float, allowed you some creative sustenance.

Writing is partly about inventing, and a lot about observing. Whether you’re writing fact or fiction, allowing yourself to notice is key. What precise colour is the dress that woman is wearing? What is the texture of the bark you are leaning against?

Look, honestly – I can’t guarantee that at the end of our time together, you will be able to dash off a Booker-prize winning novel, or a screenplay worthy of an Oscar. But I can assure that allowing yourself to notice, really notice – this will make you a better writer. Whether you’re writing comedy, screenplays, novels, memoir, history….. it doesn’t matter. Noticing the detail will bring your writing to life.

But more importantly than that – noticing the detail will make you a better reader. And – grand statement coming up! – I think it will make you a better human.

We talked last week about noticing senses, about attending to the body. Today, your job is to notice a person. Observe someone. Without judgement. Simply watch. It can be someone you know; it might be a stranger on the bus, or the waiter in the café. A person walking past, or your neighbour. Simply observe.

(An aside – this is not an invitation to follow said person, especially in the case of strangers!)

For now, simply notice the detail. Is the person’s hair rough? Is it one colour, or many subtle colours? How do their clothes sit on them? How does this person move?

If they listen, or speak, notice the precise detail.

Last week I talked about curiosity – and this is key. You are allowing yourself to be curious about this person. Observe and wonder.

Later, write a page or so down about this person, noting what you observed, allowing yourself to linger on details, to spend as much time as you like on how they sprinkled salt on their pie. Whatever detail held your attention as you observed – write it down now and stay with it. Don’t rush. You are the faithful recorder of humanity: all you need to do is show up.

As with last week, your daily prompts will be at the bottom of each day’s note. Try to engage with what you see on the page, and – as always – just begin where you are. Begin with boredom or emptiness if that’s what you’ve got. Keep writing for at least twenty minutes, more if you can.

Some thoughts on the daily writing routine: make an appointment with yourself for your ‘free writing’ time. Don’t wait until you feel inspired. Inspiration will come once you begin. Write the appointment time in your diary, and show up.

As with last week, some of the prompts are images to bounce off from, some are sentences to begin your own writing from, some, just an idea. Grab whatever comes and start writing.

A nice thought from writer Judy Reeves on this process: “Like panning for gold, you might get nuggets and you might get gravel. But then again, you might be building a driveway and a few loads of gravel is just what you need.” (from A Writer’s Book of Days, New World Library, 1999)

Today’s prompt is…

Write a time someone said no …