As we get to the end of the week, it’s time to update you on how my class is going. When I hit play for my Master Class with David Sedaris, I felt like I was sitting down with him in the same room. His advice wasn’t too over the top or complicated when it comes to finding writing material. One of his takeaways that I need to share his belief in being engaged with the world.
David believes that you need to be engaged with the world when you make your observations and you can’t be distracted by social media or messaging friends while you’re out and about. Basically, he’s telling writers not to ruin the moment by putting down our phones and pause. The stories will come to us if we’re paying attention.
I had to laugh when he said that a friend of his used his phone as a shield when he was out and about. His friend said it was “his shield” that protected him from small talk. David’s point was that as writers, we should be asking more questions, and one that lead to interesting stories. Make a connection with the people you meet and ask them more than just the weather.
Writers block can happen because we’re not opening ourselves up to what’s around us. Things become complicated because we can make it that way by being too busy. Our inner writer’s voice can’t be heard if we’re not silent. We just need to listen.
The next point he made in his lesson is to stop asking ourselves ordinary questions. He used the example of not asking the questions that we get asked all the time, such as “Do you have plans for the weekend?” Leave those questions behind because they’re boring. He once asked someone, “When was the last time you touched a monkey?” The woman asked back, “Can you smell it on me?” Talk about an unusual question. She invited him to the place she worked that trained monkeys to assist those with disabilities.
I’m not saying that you should be creepy with your questions or be rude in asking inappropriate questions. David’s point is that when you observe and ask the world more interesting questions, the stories are going to find you. Writers should have a running dialogue of questions that they carry with them as they go out into the world. It’s our job to ask better questions and make connections that other people might be too busy to do.
Our prompt for today is to stop hiding behind our shields. When you go out today or this weekend, ask someone questions. Make a connection and pause to observe the world. Write down what you see and ask. Keep these questions handy for when you leave your house, and let the stories happen around you.
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