Do you write with your body, mind, heart, or soul? In other words: When you write, are you focused on the external or internal world?
Some writers tend to focus on the internal world of thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
Others pay more attention to the external world of sensory details, actions, and descriptions.
Neither approach is wrong, but too much of either can lead to lopsided writing. One way to enrich your writing is to combine the inner and outer worlds so that you have a balance between them.
I used to write almost exclusively from my head and heart, with a strong focus on thoughts and feelings. There might have been some action, but there was little description. For example, my essays could have been summed up like this:
First this happened, and then this other thing happened. This made me feel certain things, but then someone said something, and I felt this other way. Next, I said something and this other thing happened, which made me think more deeply about it, and my feelings changed.
An essay like that, coming only from the head and heart, can lack texture. As a result, readers probably won’t resonate with the story, especially if they don’t already know me and care what I think and feel. Yes, it’s possible to write a compelling piece without the five senses, but it’s much harder to draw readers into the world of your story without those senses.
To create the world of a story (or essay or poem) on the page, you need to bring in the rest of your body.
You need the five senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. You need concrete, physical details and descriptions.
Writing that lacks sensory details usually feels flat and lifeless. You can enliven your work (and give it depth and texture) by learning to pay attention to the tangible, physical world — and by bringing those concrete, sensory details into your work. This will help you to create a written world where meaning can take root.
If you'd like to learn much more about using the five senses to add texture and vibrancy to your writing, please join me in The Word Cellar Writers Guild. Each month I present a different writing module (like a mini e-course). December's theme is Come to Your Senses, and it includes tips on how to slant and shade sensory details to create meaning, metaphors, and connection with readers. Learn more and join The Writers Guild here.