When I was little, I used to notice all sorts of trivial things around. Like license plate numbers off some ominous looking bikes in the neighborhood, the difference in attitude of a sweetshop-owner and a milkman or even the number of steps in a stranger staircase. Much later I found out that this actually is a very valued skill that when developed properly can take us to new levels of creative success.
What is Creative Success?
Creative success means being very good at everything that you do in order to make something better for yourself. It can be related to your roles and responsibilities in your job, starting and running your business or more commonly doing those things that bring you the greatest pleasures and satisfaction, not always from the monetary point of view.
Many people have the wrong idea that in order to be successful creatively, you need to pursuit a creative career (or hobby) such as writing, painting or singing. But if you look more closely to your daily to-do lists, you can actually find almost all of them can be done using a more creative approach. (Yes, even checking the emails.)
We don’t learn the most important lesson while growing up. That is: “almost always, there are three or more ways to solving a given problem.” We just take it for granted that something needs to be done in a particular way because someone had tasted success using that approach. We don’t pause to think that if everybody follows the same approach, then the individual differences vanish and the world has a hard time distinguishing between us and choosing one to gift something. We need to be prepared to receive the gift. We need to stand out from the crowd. We need to make some different choices. In short, we need to be more creative in everything we do.
But the range of ScribbleSquare is a limited one, and we’ll talk about using the skill of observation to gain creative success in writing.
First Step to Creative Success: WHAT
Creative success is a complex amalgamation of very different, very awkward and very challenging skills. But anyone can take the first step by simply being more observant.
Remember Sherlock? Remember Feluda? Remember Hercule Poirot? Their creators were examples of being most observant of even the tiniest details. You can marvel at the intricate design of the vase Sherlock broke in “The Six Napoleons”. You can smell the streets of Benaras while walking with Feluda and his two companions in “Joy Baba Felunath”. You can visit an absurd little station called Styles St. Mary in all its elaborate descriptions in “The Mysterious Affair At Styles”. These writers were able to produce such timeless classics because they perfected the art of observing all sorts of things.
First Step to Creative Success: WHY
When you’re speaking a language, you have three friends in the form of “Pause, Stress and Intonation” to let your emotions flow. When you’re writing, you need to be able to produce the same effects. For this purpose, the first thing to do is first observing as many things you can in as many ways as possible. In order to let your readers experience something, you need to experience that yourself. Why do you think firsthand accounts of an event are so popular? People want to know what you saw, what you heard or what you did; but most importantly they want to know how you felt. You can begin feeling by always learning to observe everything more closely.
In fact, observations fuel creativity. Whenever we find interesting things, we take note of it and then almost instantly begin to tally it with our previous experiences with similar types of things. This gives us both inspiring ideas for our content and the best way to present them in style.
First Step to Creative Success: HOW
I was growing up by reading excellent detective stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Satyajit Ray and Agatha Cristie from the tender age of 12, and unknowingly cultivating this precious habit of observation inside me. Children are naturally the most observant of all, and that helped me a lot. But even if you had a different childhood, you can always start observing better by following these 5 simple practices:
Take Note of Everything
Start by noticing what your favorite perfume (mine is an overpowering smell of nicotine in my six-by-five room, among a few others) smells like after having a long and stressful day at work, how a man reacts when he is angry at someone he deeply loves or what becomes the color of the sky when the sun is setting just after a welcome sprinkle of rain on a hot summer day. Each of us are born and raised to see the same things very differently. Take advantage of that and try to note as many things down in your notebook as you can.
Whenever you find time to observe things, associate some meanings to them in order to make them easy to remember. Being an introvert, I used to play this game with myself by looking at the people on the street. The game was to find out what each of the passersby was going to do next. An old man is seating on the park bench reading a book. I used to guess that he would pick his nose with his left hand in the next ten minutes. Mostly my guesses were wrong but the game was interesting nonetheless. Playing this game also made me a bit clearer on the many possible meanings of my observations.
Notice the Differences
Observing becomes more fun when you observe events not going in the expected direction. Differences in your expectation of the event and the outcome of the event itself is what makes your experience of observing the event the most beneficial to you as a writer. Aberrations are also blissfully included in the rulebook of nature. With a bounty of them present, your observations get a life of their own.
When writing about them, always begin by describing your observations exactly as you observe them. Present them in their most naked form. Then slowly begin to add details, both true and made-up, to the original observations. Soon you’ll create something entirely unknown to you. Of course that’ll feel like being the most powerful man on earth!
Wait for the Right Moments
All your observations written in the most detailed versions need to show their happy faces through your writings. Not one such observation is boring or trivial or useless. You just have to find the right context to be able to fit your content in. The wait may be for weeks, months or even years. You just need to wait patiently, always observing when the time to use your priceless observations comes knocking.
From daily tasks to your pursuit of dreams, everything can be summed up as a creative process. As for us content creators, the art and practice of observing can be a great tool to possess. Always remember that the observations don’t need to be related to your respective content topic itself. In fact, the more varied they are, the better.
Hope you all have a great week ahead, full of meaningful, scientific, artistic and most of all happy observations.