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Sharpening the Lens of Perception
Turns out, practicing The Art of Noticing really give you an endless source of creative inspiration.
This is part of my “Art of Noticing” series, in which I learn, find, or discover the things around me that usually go unnoticed and turn them into an endless source of creative inspiration.
Today I noticed that this whole "Art of Noticing” thing is becoming a habit for me. It made me realize that soon, I won’t even have to TRY in order to find all the ideas I’ll ever need.
It’s only been a few weeks since I launched this post series and my Art of Noticing podcast, but the practice of all of it has built a meta-Noticing atop the Noticing itself. Meaning that yes, I’m noticing more ordinary things now that I can turn into creative inspiration … but atop that, I’ve also started to notice the habit itself. And how good at this whole thing — and how automatically inspired — it’s making me.
Instead of seeing trees, I now see living beings, ripe for fictionalization, that are nothing like me. Instead of noticing other cars, I notice people who all have hidden stories. Where I used to see a dropped item and walk unthinkingly past it, I now wonder where it came from … and what story, using that mundane thing, I might be able to tell.
It’s like I've put on a new pair of glasses, and those glasses change the way I see everything.
All it took was practice. All it took was to build a habit. All it took intentional effort, every day, to look around and really see. And now it’s paying off. All this “Noticing” is starting to translate into my work … without me even needing to think much about it anymore.
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Here's how this "noticing the Noticing" can benefit my stories and art:
Embracing Mundane Stuff as Special
When I go looking for inspiration, I usually think of something big and grand: a waterfall, an ocean, a mountain, a vista. Now, I’m starting to see that’s unnecessary.
As my observation skills get better, I’m seeing more and more automatically that even the most routine things contain story and story and beauty.
That rusted mailbox I’ve never thought much about before? It has tales of years of correspondence, of love letters, of postcards from distant lands. Oh, the tales it would tell.
Fine-tuning the Senses
This whole “Art of Noticing” thing isn’t confined to seeing, even that’s how sighted people tend to notice by default. You can of course notice sounds, touches, tastes, smells, and more … senses I’ve mostly neglected here so far, by the way.
But now, I’m thinking about those things — about trying to hone my other senses as well. By doing that, I’ll find five times the ideas. Just need to dive deeper into what the world offers, finding inspiration in the crunch of leaves or the smell of a thriving city.
Finding Story Behind Each Noticing
Everything has a history. Everything has a narrative. The worn-out path in the park, the graffiti on the subway wall, or the old man feeding pigeons … there’s potential art to come from any of them. That’s why Noticing is so good: It makes us pay attention, and as creators, attention is what matters most. Noticing encourages us to question, to dive deeper, until we find (or at least acknowledge the existence of) the story behind everything.
Remember, while grand inspirations have their place, there's unparalleled beauty in the ordinary. By cultivating our observation muscles, we can embrace the stories right here in our everyday lives.
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