Creativity Boost: Pay Attention


I’m pretty sure at some point when Jackie and I were walking around Santa Fe we talked about wondering if people there ever get tired of or stop noticing the view. I wondered the same thing when I lived in coastal Massachusetts for a summer. Do people who grow up with that view get complacent, or do they sit in wonder at the amazingness of it just like we from landlocked states do? Pay attention to your surroundings for a creative boost.

But of course we don’t always see the beauty that is right in front of us. As the seasons change I think we’re all a little more mindful of our surroundings, looking out this time of year for the first changing colors, noticing the little differences from day to day.

Notes from the Road

I know I tend to notice more details when I travel; I’ve even written about that a couple of times before, sharing details and observations from trips.

Sometimes I literally take notes while I’m traveling. I didn’t do that as much this time, but there were definitely things that stuck with me that I observed.

Like the license plate that said “Let’s Go” and I automatically wondered if it was a Hamilton reference (probably not, but such is the depth of my obsession).

Or the billboard for a cemetery that said “Great books are ruined by lousing endings.” WTF?

How about the Spearmint Rhino Gentleman’s Club? I was so tempted to Google, but I’m afraid. (OK, I Googled. Apparently it’s a chain. I don’t know why it’s called that. I don’t want to know.) Pay attention to your surroundings for a creative boost.

I was surprised by all the flowers everywhere, from the giant yellow allergy-inducing bushes I don’t remember the name of, to lavender, all manner of purple and yellow wildflowers and the flowers planted in the gardens at Upaya.

I think amaranth is my new favorite. Isn’t it gorgeous? This variety has tiny white grains.

There was also this lovely orchid in the zendo, which every afternoon cast a shadow on the wall that was totally enchanting. I didn’t take any pictures in there but if I had, I would have taken a picture of that.

And the snails. So many snails. Big, fat snails. Everywhere.

This Week’s Challenge: Pay Attention Pay attention to your surroundings for a creative boost.

You don’t have to be on a trip to notice new things. Just the other day the girl and I were driving home from school, on the same street I’m on at least four times a day, and I noticed someone had put up a wind chime made out of teacups. It probably wasn’t new that day, but it was the first time I noticed it.

The challenge for the week, then, is to pay attention and really notice some things.

You can do that however you like:

Really look at five things every day — a leaf, a rock, a handful of soil, your child’s hand, whatever.

List three things you observed at the end of each day.

Use something you noticed as a jumping off point for writing practice or drafting an essay.

Take a picture of something you notice every day.

Use what you noticed in a project such as a drawing or a poem.

If you try this challenge I’d love to know what you noticed. If you take pictures and share them on Instagram or elsewhere use the hashtag #ourdailycraft so I’ll be sure to see them.

Read the previous creativity boost: Honor the Transition

Or the next one: Start Small

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