Writing All Five Senses

I have to write a 500-750 word piece invoking all five senses, for my writing group next month.  Actually, I suggested this task.  Was I mad?

Primroses, yellow and pinkIt is considered good practice to reference all five senses in most pieces of writing, but it’s not easy.  Consider, for instance, the primroses in my garden.  I can wax lyrical about pale yellow and pale pink petals, but how do I get you to visualise them, Dear Reader? Giving you the photo is cheating on my part.  Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words was all too right.  I could liken them to rhubarb and custard perhaps?   No, no, you’re laughing now.  Clearly,  I haven’t struck the right note.

Cup of teaLet’s start again.  Take my cup of tea.  I can do all five senses with my cup of tea:Cup of Tea With Bubbles Around the edge.

Sight –  The mid-brown colour shows that it’s a nice strong brew.  When I poured the milk into the cup, for a moment, it circled around in white swirls.  Also, do you see the bubbles around the edge of the mug?

Sound – Gurgling of the kettle, the clink-clink of crockery,  welcome and reassuring sounds.  Tea, in particular, has emotional connotations.  Tea and sympathy.  Everything stops for tea.  There’s nothing that can’t be solved with a cup of tea.

Feel – Hot, cold or luke-warm.  Wet.

Taste – Bitter, lingering on my tongue, or milky and insipid.

Smell – Although finer varieties of tea do have an aroma, bog-standard, red label, tea has hardly any fragrance, although the drinker will feel steam rising up around his/her face.

Not much to say about tea, then?  Actually, in my opinion, there’s enough – for a mere cup of tea.

I find it easier to describe something that’s been done badly, or inappropriately.  I could rant about tea made with not-quite-boiling water, drawing attention to its grey colour, and likening its feel to a dirty dishcloth.  Or make you sweat by making you read about tea being served on a beach during a heat wave.

For me, the terrible describer, a mental senses checklist is a helpful prompt.  The point of descriptions is to bring a scene, a setting or an object to life for the reader, so it makes sense to address all his/her faculties.

Have a good week.  Term starts tomorrow and I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  I could attempt to describe tiredness but I haven’t got the energy to do it.


Writing Life Cloudy and Filled with Rain? What then?

Tomorrow is the first Wednesday of the month and Insecure Writers’ Support Group day, where we members bring out all the insecurities we have been trying to suppress since the first Wednesday of last month.  Forgive me for being early;  I’ve got a moment now, so I’m getting on with it.

This month we are asked what we do to keep writing when our writing life is cloudy and filled with rain.

  • If I’m trying to write a piece and it’s just not working, I don’t keep writing.  I stop.  I go and do something else.  When I want to sort out a knotty plot hole or dialogue which won’t go right, I do a job in the house – and after a while fresh perspectives pop into my mind.  Even making a cup of tea or even going to the loo helps.
  • If the cloudiness and rain is due to lack of time… I don’t know.  The obvious thing would be to give up other activities so as to make more time for writing – but what?  Give up work and starve?  Many writers have.  Stop spending time with family?  Most writers get pretty grumpy when they are trying to write and husbands/wives/children insist of talking to them or, worse, want them to do things.  What is it?…  Oh.  You’ve made me a cup of tea.  Er… thanks.
  • If I’m getting rejections… well, of course, I’m totally professional, set the rejection aside and sub elsewhere immediately.  Yeah, right.  If I’m getting a lot of rejections, or more than I anticipate, yes, my life is indeed filled with rain and I do become depressed.  One way I deal with it is to comfort write, that is, write the piece I enjoy most, probably my novel.
  • Some authors write best when they’re in the throes of depression.  Some even write themselves out of depression.  If my (real) life becomes cloudy and filled with rain, I can’t write at all.